Frank W. Bubb III


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Frank Bubb died this past November at the age of 65.* I first saw his name in Reason magazine, in the 1970’s as I recall. He had penned a letter to the editor on the legal issue of abortion. It was so on the mark that I remembered his name through the years until we finally met in the ’90’s at summer seminars of David Kelley’s institute. Frank was a founding contributor of that organization, the Institute for Objectivist Studies. He served on its Advisory Board from the outset in 1990, and he was a generous financial supporter of Objectivist Studies, a series of excellent scholarly monographs issued by IOS.

Frank received his A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in economics. He earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He was employed by Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia from 1975 until 1996, during which he rose to be Staff Vice President and Chief Financial Counsel. Subsequently, he was Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of the Sports Authority.

Frank had been involved with Objectivism since his student days at Washington University in St. Louis, where he attended lecture courses given by the Nathaniel Branden Institute. For three years, he wrote a weekly op-ed column with an explicitly Objectivist-libertarian perspective for Student Life, Washington University's independent student newspaper. While at law school, he taught courses on Objectivism at Penn's "free university," with classes ranging in size from twenty to forty-five. For two years, he also wrote a weekly op-ed column for Penn's Daily Voice. During the ’80s, he wrote approximately sixty op-ed articles that were either distributed nationally by the Cato Institute or placed directly with such newspapers as the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Orange County Register. He countered Murray Rothbard’s smear of Objectivism in the pages of Liberty.

At The Objectivist Center's 2000 Advanced Seminar, Frank delivered a paper entitled "Deriving Rights as Interpersonal Moral Constraints." In weeks thereafter, we corresponded on ideas he proposed in that paper. We were of very similar mind in political philosophy. Frank enjoyed Toastmasters and public speaking. He enjoyed reading, traveling, hiking, scuba diving, and tennis. He was a gentle, intelligent, and richly knowledgeable man.


Frank attended summer seminars of the Center many times. I spot photos of him in the booklets announcing those seminars. He is not identified in those photos, but if you still have some of those booklets, he can be seen here:

2001 – page 8 (left in photo) and page 9 (below left hand of WT at mic)

2002 – page 3 (left in lower photo)

2003 – page 4 (light shirt)

2004 – page 14 (upper left photo, solid dark shirt)

2006 – page 11 (left in left photo)

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I have learned that David Kelley has written a tribute to Frank, which follows:

We’re deeply saddened to inform our friends of the death of Frank Bubb. Frank was a Founding Member of The Atlas Society, and, from 2003 to 2010, a member of its Board of Trustees. On November 8th he lost his five-year battle with Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease.

Frank was a corporate attorney, chiefly with the Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia, where he rose to become Staff VP and Chief Financial Counsel. In the mid-1990s, he survived a radical restructuring by CEO "Chainsaw" Al Dunlop, and moved with the company to Boca Raton. From 1996 to his retirement in 2003, he was Senior VP and General Counsel for The Sports Authority retail chain, where he was responsible for its legal affairs. He was an expert in securities law, corporate governance, and employee compensation and benefits, among other areas.

From his college days Frank was an activist for liberty. As an undergraduate at Washington University, he founded an Objectivist discussion group and wrote a weekly column for the campus newspaper, a practice he continued at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he also taught courses on Objectivism. Despite the pressures of his legal work, he found time to write scores of op-ed articles for newspapers nationwide.

Frank was actively involved in the life of our organization from the very beginning, as a donor, advisor, speaker, and writer as well as trustee. He had a special interest in our research and student programs. After I launched what was then the Institute for Objectivist Studies in early 1990, I wanted to hold a weeklong seminar for students that summer, but we lacked the funds. Frank asked what we needed; his check allowed us to hold the first Summer Seminar. He was instrumental in our Objectivist Studies monograph series, providing seed money and advice on topics and authors. He wrote several great articles for our former publication Navigator, including a cautionary article about certain plans for privatizing Social Security, based on his intimate knowledge of pension and investment law.

"Frank and I served together on the Atlas Society Board for many years," says Jay Lapeyre, board chair. "Frank often stood alone in pushing an issue or a perspective, and I learned to appreciate both the wisdom of his insights and his intense commitment to understand and integrate the ideas. He sought truth in every discussion, and he was quick to volunteer his time and financial support when he believed he could make a difference. Frank brought a special passion for ideas and research, and he strongly advocated for expanded student programs."

Frank was truly a man of the mind. He was a friend, advisor, and comrade for over a quarter century. We have lost another great one. The staff and board of The Atlas Society extend our sincerest condolences to Frank's wife, Diana, and their sons, Daniel and David.

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Frank also attended a couple of Summer Seminars after his impairment had been diagnosed (and publicized to the Atlas Society community). I recall him in Alexandria in 2010, still in good spirits despite the decay of his memory and his reasoning.

I will miss him.

Robert Campbell

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