Austin Frum, 74; Housing Lawyer

Monday, January 14, 2008

Austin Pendleton Frum, 74, an Arlington lawyer who specialized in real estate development and housing finance and who was an advocate for affordable housing in Arlington County, died Jan. 4 of metastatic parotid cancer at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Mr. Frum was born in Cleveland and served in the Navy from 1955 to 1958 aboard an amphibious assault cargo ship. He graduated cum laude in English from Amherst College in 1955 and received a law degree from Harvard University in 1961.

He moved to Washington and joined the law offices of Spencer W. Reeder.

He also worked as an associate and partner with Jackson, Gray & Laskey and with the Government National Mortgage Association, known as Ginnie Mae, in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before becoming a housing adviser to the government of Zaire in 1971.

Returning to Washington in 1973, he joined Dunnells, Duvall & Porter (now Holland & Knight), where he concentrated on real estate development and finance and tax-exempt bonds. He was managing partner from 1984 to 1986.

Mr. Frum worked for the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp. from 1989 to 1991, serving as vice president, general counsel and secretary.

He was a counsel with Garfinkle & Associates from 1992 to 1999 and more recently served as interim executive director of Arlington Housing Corp. and as acting executive director of the Charter Schools Development Corp. From 1992 until his death, he invested in and managed residential rental properties.

True to his English-major roots, Mr. Frum enjoyed poetry, fiction and history. He also liked local minor league baseball and George Washington University basketball.

He loved the outdoors. Having learned to canoe on a Canadian lake at age 3, he continued the sport his whole life, paddling in recent years along the canals and rivers of France.

After a diagnosis of cancer in 1996, he took up running and participated in marathons in Frederick, Boston, Paris and Alexandria. He also enjoyed home brewing.

His marriages to Deborah Colborn Frum and Wilma Betts Frum ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 21 years, Jennifer Belt Frum of Arlington; two children from his first marriage, Stephen Frum and Catherine Frum, both of the District; two sons from his second marriage, Glenn Betts of Annandale and Steve Betts of the District; and a son from his third marriage, Federico Frum of Brooklyn, N.Y.; three sisters; and four grandchildren.

-- Joe Holley

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