Edward Lee Frome passed away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on December 31, 2021. He confronted his progressive medical challenges from Primary Orthostatic Tremor (www.NIH.gov), a RARE degenerative neurologic disease first diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in 1995, with optimism, courage, and tenacity. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 19, 1942, the firstborn child and only son with four younger sisters to follow. Ed was named after his uncle, Edward Wilson Frome. In childhood, as in adulthood, Ed was an exemplary big brother with a strong commitment to his immediate as well as extended family. In his youth he enjoyed sandlot baseball, playground basketball, adventures at Aunt Kate’s Farm, and summer days with relatives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He developed a work ethic while assisting in his grandfather’s greenhouses growing potted Chrysanthemums and Geraniums, then selling them on the streets of downtown Baltimore. He was a Cub Scout. In 1956, Ed was confirmed in St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church where he was an acolyte.
Ed attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in the ninth grade. In 1957, his father was relocated to Lockheed Martin in Orlando and the family moved to Florida where he graduated from Winter Park High School in 1960. He was a member of the Order of DeMolay. Ed began writing poetry on life, love, and longings his senior year in high school, an endeavor that spanned the entire decade of the 1960’s. The summers of 1961 and 1962 Ed worked for the Martin Marietta Corporation (MMC) in Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he was assigned full responsibility administrating an experimental program in programmed instruction. MMC wrote, “He showed an interest and an approach which was both imaginative and refreshing, exhibiting intellectual, technical, and social maturity far beyond his years.”
Ed attended the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville where he was a member and treasurer of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He earned a Bachelors of Science degree in physics in 1964, with a minor in psychology. Ed received a Master of Science degree in statistics at UF in 1966, where he was a graduate assistant. He worked for the Florida Citrus Commission, designing and analyzing experiments, which became the basis for his master’s thesis. Ed moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1966 to join the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), providing statistical analysis for cytogenetic research and radiation dosimetry. His ORAU research was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in search of understanding the effects of whole body radiation, which led to Ed’s first research publication in the journal, Aerospace Medicine, in April, 1969.
In 1968, funded by a Special Research Fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, he moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University and pursue a Ph.D. in Biostatistics. There, in the spring of 1970, after a friendly tennis match, he found his perfectly matched soulmate, Ann, napping in the grass under a tree beside a flowing stream by the Emory tennis courts. In Ann, Ed’s longings in life and love were satisfied and quenched. He wrote of Ann in his final poem, “A warm heart and a patient smile, Michelangelo’s beautiful women, that’s how I think of you. Whenever I see a beautiful garden I know there must be a gardener sleeping under a tree, somewhere. I see myself in you.” They were married in 1971. Ann supported Ed’s education and research while he continued as an NIH Public Health Service Fellow. Ed’s doctoral dissertation was titled “Nonlinear Regression and Spectral Estimation in Biomedical Data Analysis,” which provided the foundation for his future innovative research. With the mentorship of his advisor, Michael H. Kutner, he earned his Ph.D. in Biostatistics in 1972. The following year he served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Anesthesiology in the School of Medicine at Emory University, where he performed the real time statistical analysis of heart and respiratory sounds during open-heart surgery. He developed and applied new statistical methods based on numeric spectrum analysis to monitor respiratory function.
In 1973, Ed moved to Austin, Texas where he was an Assistant Professor of Statistics-Operations Research and an associate member of the graduate faculty at the University of Texas (UT). He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in sampling, regression analysis, and time series. He was a Research Associate with the Center for Cybernetic Studies and the Drug Dynamic Institute. Ed provided the application of statistical methods to bioavailability studies in the statistical analysis of clinical drug trials. In 1977, Ed returned to Oak Ridge to continue his preferred biomedical research in cytogenetics and radiation dosimetry in the Division of Health and Medical Sciences at Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
In 1981, Ed joined the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as a member of the senior research staff. He worked there until his retirement in 2007. His responsibilities at ORNL were research in biostatistics and long-term collaborative research with scientists in several fields. In 1987, he became a principal investigator for the ORNL statistics group’s research efforts in “Biostatistics and Epidemiology”. He was a co-investigator on an NIH funded grant to study the effects of neutron radiation on chromosome aberrations. In addition, Ed served as an Adjunct Professor at The University of Tennessee and The School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina. He was a consulting scientist for the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE). In the late 1990’s through the turn of the century, Ed served as a member of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR), the Oak Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee (ORRHES), and the Oak Ridge Environmental Quality Advisor Board (EQAB).
Ed led research design in establishing epidemiological studies of nuclear workers to determine if low-levels of radiation exposure resulted in adverse outcomes. Research in this area had been underway for many years, but received improved structure and rigor with Ed’s input. Data was collected and analyzed from film badges and death certificates of 118,000 former Oak Ridge nuclear workers. Coincidentally, Ed and Ann bought their F Cemesto home in 1977 from health physicist Ernest O. Wollan, inventor and developer of the film badge which collected radiation exposure data from Oak Ridge workers, that was statistically analyzed decades later by Ed. He was instrumental in studies to determine if survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced adverse radiation effects. His statistical work at ORNL included several studies of hazardous exposure in the workplace. Ed was instrumental in spearheading the development of a software system to analyze beryllium exposure which incorporated his original statistical approach and was adopted by beryllium labs across the country.
Ed is best known for his central role in the development of Poisson Regression Methods. The statistical methods he developed and refined provide a major tool for statisticians around the world in the analysis of biomedical data and are widely used by epidemiologists as well as clinical and experimental scientists. He also developed new algorithms for Least Absolute Value Regression based on linear programming methods, widely used in pharmacokinetics. He was the first to show how Poisson regression methods could be used to analyze cytogenetic dose-response data. He also developed an efficient algorithm that is used to verify Poisson variation in situations where the data may be sparse. During Ed’s career he was an author of 68 statistical research papers. His research papers were published in numerous prestigious peer-reviewed statistical and medical journals, resulting in 2,080 citations by other researchers and 5,386 reads. He clearly has been the most highly cited author in the area of Poisson Regression Modeling, with his single-authored 1983 Biometrics manuscript “The Analysis of Rates Using Poisson Regression Models” having been cited 547 times. He was often asked to give papers at national scientific meetings and to write review articles in his areas of expertise. In addition, he wrote dozens of technical reports and proceedings.
He was a 55-year member of the American Statistical Association (ASA), which serves to advance research, promote sound statistical practice, inform public policy, and improve human welfare. Ed was elected a Fellow in the ASA in 1996 in recognition of his many years of diligent work and outstanding contributions to the statistical profession. He exhibited exceptional competence both methodologically and in specialized areas of application, demonstrated a sustained record of technical leadership, and was an exceptional experimentalist and an innovative theoretician with a national reputation. Among his major achievements were the development and refinement of Poisson Regression methods and advances in understanding of the health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation. Ed served as an associate editor for the Journal of the ASA from 1983 to 1993. In 2005, the ASA presented Ed with the Exemplary Service Award in acknowledgement for his service as the ASA webmaster from 1998 to 2005. He was the Chairman of the 1985 ASA Conference on Radiation and Health. Upon retirement in 2007, the American Statistical Association awarded Ed a lifetime membership for the wealth of knowledge and prestige he brought to the study of statistics and to the ASA. Ed was also a member of the International Biometric Society and Radiation Research Society. He was an editorial collaborator for statistics in the Journal of Radiation Research.
In 2014 Ed was an inaugural recipient of the Michael H. Kutner Distinguished Alumni Award from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. This alumni honor was in recognition of his distinguished service to the discipline of statistics and his lifetime career achievements. Ed’s statistical career was an unwavering, quiet quest for truth and knowledge through statistical research and innovations, with meticulous attention given to thoughtful study design, accurate data collection, and robust statistical methods. During Ed’s career he advised many graduate students and was considered to be a thoughtful and positive mentor who encouraged and facilitated students to realize their full potential in statistics.
In 1982, Ed originated the concept for his wife, Ann, to develop a home-based summer Computer Camp for young children, thus providing a twenty-year enrichment program for their two children, numerous young friends and relatives, and hundreds of Oak Ridge youth. Ed began attending First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in 1966 and enjoyed assisting Ann with teaching Sunday School in the preschool and Kindergarten classes. He connected with children with calmness, patience, and a unique sense of silly humor. Children brought out the ELF (his initials) in Ed, qualities which he embraced and which children enjoyed. He was a member of the Oak Ridge Tennis Club (ORTC) where he played league and family tennis. He supported Ann in coaching middle school and United States Tennis Association (USTA) junior team tennis for 30 years, passing their joint love of tennis on to younger generations. In his earlier years he enjoyed hiking, biking, jogging, and taking walks with Ann. He enjoyed participation with his children in several sports over the years, specifically, with his son Daniel in baseball and his daughter Julie in tennis during their high school and college play. He logged over 3,600 visits at the Cardiac Rehab program in Oak Ridge. Ed delighted in play with his young grandchildren, especially many versions of indoor ball, during his homebound years.
Ed is survived by his devoted, unfaltering wife of 50 years, Ann Frome; cherished children, Daniel Frome (Stephanie) and Julie Park (Deacon); adored grandchildren, Jackson Frome, Ella Frome, and Carlee Anne Park; two beloved sisters, Donna Deverell (Chris) and Kathy Dennis (Jim); and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews who have enriched his life. He is also survived by the family indoor cats who provided endless entertainment and enjoyment during his homebound years. Ed was predeceased in death by his impeccable parents, Peggy Holden and Donald Lee Frome; numerous influential aunts and uncles; and two lamented sisters, Peggy Wilkins (Jon) and Susan Brady. Ed wrote a survivors tribute in his father’s 1969 obituary, “We will say how much we love him through the lives we live and the kind of people we are.”—also a survivors tribute to Ed.
A graveside service for the immediate family was held on January 4 at the Oak Ridge Memorial Park, officiated by Sharon Youngs of FPC. A Memorial Service with music, memories, and musings will be held at 2:00 Sunday, May 15 at the First Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge officiated by Sharon Youngs, followed by a reception. Later this year a Memorial Bench from the Frome Family will be placed in Oak Ridge Memorial Park on the hilltop overlooking the historic Dr. Ball Garden, the Catholic Garden, and the Garden of Meditation. Ed wrote in a poem, “Grasp a rose not with your hand, for you destroy its splendor, but rather with your heart, and it will live forever.” In lieu of flowers, please consider making a monetary contribution to the First Presbyterian Church, Oak Ridge, in memory of Edward L. Frome, PO Box 6106, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.