Cllifford I. Fryer
Inducted in 1989
Cliff was born to John E. and Euna Fryer in Stanton, Missouri, about sixty miles west of St. Louis in 1917. The fiddle meant much in his life from the very beginning. He has fond memories of listening to his father, grandfather, uncles and aunts playing every time they could be together. By the time Cliff was old enough to start playing the fiddle, his grandfather was too old to teach him. But his father played at many country dances,and at the age of five, Cliff started to play familiar waltzes and dance tunes along with his father.
By the age of 16, Cliff started to find girls were more fun than fiddles, and the necessity of finding work during the depression took him from his home in Missouri to California. He worked first in a winery, and then tried other jobs, including forest ranger in Idaho, before returning to Missouri.
Cliff was working as a carpenter when, in November 1940, he was selected as the first draftee from the state of Missouri and was sent to the cavalry. After serving his year, he thought to return to civilian life. In just a few months, though, Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II sent him back to the service. For nine months he was an aviation cadet in the Army Air Corps, then was sent overseas as a “Hedge Hopper” in the European Theater of Operations (E.T.O.) until the conclusion of the war.
In 1943, Cliff married Velda Ross of Wichita, Kansas. Upon his return from the war, they established a home in St. Louis for seventeen years, where he worked in construction, and where their children, John Stuart and Shara Michelle, were born. In May 1962, The Fryers moved to Hallettsville. They loved Texas and the people of Hallettsville so much, they remained there the next twenty years, managing their own construction business and raising their children. In 1963, after thirty years of not playing, Cliff found his interest in fiddling reawakened. A fiddle player in Hallettsville admired Cliff’s old family fiddle and played some tunes for him. That was all it took. From then on, he and Velda missed very few contests in and around the state. To them, nothing could replace the enjoyment and friendships they found through fiddle music. Cliff has never competed in contests. He would rather listen to others play. The Fryers are happiest when any of their fiddler friends come to their home for a jam session. The Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics from April 1971 to 1989 has been a source of much joy.
Any credit given to Cliff Fryer for this annual event must also be shared with his wife Velda, Rita and Frank Zaruba, and Anna Mae and Kenneth Henneke. It is a shared tribute with the many members of the Knights of Columbus and their families for devotion and immeasurable effort to make the Texas State Championship Contest a success and to keep live the Beauty of Texas Fiddle Music.