Paul W. Fromer, 1927-2012

For many years, IVP and the InterVarsity student magazine known as HIS (published from 1941-88) were closely linked. HIS (so-called to emphasize that it was not IV’s but God’s) was always separate organizationally from IVP. But the two occupied the same offices from the 1950s onward, first in Chicago and later in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Paul Fromer

i-68800970ada33fc9f419f8d2ff30c7b0-PAUL fromer.jpeg

(who died December 9, 2012) held the position of editor of HIS from 1960-71. Paul had been in the Air Force during World War II and later earned a graduate degree in chemistry before joining InterVarsity campus staff in California. He was a creative editor with a clear vision. “In nonmoral days when people were looking for a fire escape from hell,” Fromer said, “HIS stressed the lordship of Christ over every part of life.” Thus he not only published on doctrine but on campus life, psychology, politics and more. Paul also published poetry and modern-day parables that engaged readers.


He was also responsible for launching HIS in its new larger format in the 1970-71 school year with its nearly psychedelic design and crisp, targeted articles such as “Shattering the Plastic Culture,” “Drugs, Sex and the Good Life” and “The Fight to Save Kent State.” This was not your father’s Sunday-school pamphlet.

Fromer also championed editorial freedom with the support of InterVarsity’s leadership. Since the first issue in 1941, for example, it had been the practice of the magazine to publish the names of all InterVarsity staff around the country. But the fall 1964 issue contained no such list because Paul refused to publish the name of a new InterVarsity leader who was seen to be causing havoc in the movement.

Fromer left

i-13a9c553a3cad65056216a5e0f3d5052-sm gp ld hndbk.jpg

at least two enduring legacies to IVP. First, he helped bring small groups to the center of InterVarsity chapter building efforts with the November 1968 issue of HIS, which became a virtual handbook for small group leaders. That issue inspired IVP to take up the baton with the publication of the first edition of Small Group Leader’s Handbook, published in 1982. That and two subsequent revisions (the most recent edition published in 2009) have sold over 100,000 copies, training an equal number of small group leaders in InterVarsity and in the church.

The second legacy Fromer left comes in the form of the “Blue Chair Room” found in IVP’s current offices in Westmont. Nestled in a nook near the restrooms, the room is only big enough for a large, stuffed, blue recliner that had originally been brought to the HIS offices in Downers Grove by Paul in the late sixties. He had back trouble and needed a comfortable place to think and plan. His successor as editor, Steve Board, didn’t want the chair, and so the chair eventually migrated to a corner of the first floor, between the steel racks of bulk book storage. Often, employees who weren’t feeling well, but who weren’t sure they were sick enough to go home, would go down to that quiet corner for a few minutes to rest in the blue chair. A pillow and blanket were soon added.

When the new office building was planned, the architects preserved this tradition, and Fromer’s original blue chair was installed in its own little room on Plaza Drive. Only recently has the chair been replaced with a new, black recliner. But we still call it “the Blue Chair Room.”

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

3 thoughts on “Paul W. Fromer, 1927-2012”

  1. Thank you so much for this well written piece about my Dad. A comfortable chair in which to think, plan, pray is a suitable legacy.

  2. A very good legacy. It’s been a wonderful tradition here at IVP, Ruth. We’re very grateful for it.

  3. I’ll miss Mr. Fromer’s visits to IVP. It was always a treat to visit with him when I was at the front desk. He was a kind, genuine man.

Comments are closed.