Let the memory of Arvonne be with us forever - The Memorial Service will be held August 30th, 2018 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St., Minneapolis 55401

Arvonne Skelton Fraser, (September 1, 1925 – August 7, 2018) passed at our St. Croix River house at the age of 92.  She was a feminist, ambassador, author, wife of Don Fraser, sister of Bonnie Skelton, mother of Tom, Mary, John, Lois, Anne and Jean, grandmother of seven grandchildren, and friend, mentor and teacher to so many..

If you want to honor Arvonne then please go out and organize for a cause, donate and volunteer for candidates, read the news and talk to your family, friends, neighbors and elected officials about important issues.

Arvonne would also be pleased if you help young women and men pursuing policy change by donating to the University of Minnesota Foundation -- Humphrey School Arvonne Fraser Fund, P.O. Box 860266, Mpls, MN 55486, or Emily’s List, 1800 M St NW, Ste 375N, Washington, DC 20036.



Posted by Diane Hofstede on 5th September 2018
Arvonne Fraser a leading voice on women’s Issues, Nationally and Abroad read the headlines in the New York Times. The Times listed her many national and international accomplishments, books she had written and numerous articles. Enormous accomplishments. The Arvonne Fraser that I knew, was the person who ran Don’s multiple campaigns, entertained, welcomed the community to her home, was an interesting and fun person to be with, and had a glorious and welcoming smile, and told funny stories. She was the person in our neighborhood who took time at the grocery store, after a meeting, or on the Stone Arch Bridge to ask us how we were, or our spouse, or an issue. She remembered and she cared. Arvonne, with Fraser, at her side, would wave off offers for a ride as they walked in a cold, snowy night. She cared deeply about Fraser, their children, their grandchildren, sharing their hopes and dreams, giving guidance, by a phone call, an email or a note. She attended long neighborhood meetings and took an active interest in her community, knew her neighbors by name and their histories. She could keep secrets, started a community women’s group for mature women called OUR TURN. Being in a political family is not easy. It is not easy for the spouse or the family. Don had the courage to be a politician and a supportive husband as Arvonne led a National movement on women’s rights and issues that many thought were not the preview of a politician’s wife, especially, a Mayor. It is with deep appreciate and love that I thank the Fraser family for your gifts to us, and sharing Arvonne. Diane Hofstede
Posted by Miho Omi on 2nd September 2018
There are so many things coming into my minds when I think of Arvonne. I first met Arvonne in December 1989 when she came to Tokyo to speak to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Women’s Convention (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) for a women’s organization called Japanese Association for International Women’s Rights (JAIWR). This organization was born because Yasuko Yamashita, the founder of JAIWR, met Arvonne in Nairobi in 1985 and was inspired by the IWRAW (International Women’s Rights Action Watch) which Arvonne started. The JAIWR is now a leading organization in supporting and promoting the Women’s Convention in Japan. When I met Arvonne in Tokyo, I told her I was interested in coming to the then Humphrey Institute to study for my second masters in the Women and Public Policy program, of which, again, Arvonne was a co-founder. When I arrived in Minneapolis, I found out that Arvonne prepared a scholarship for students who wanted to study international women’s rights, including myself, with a generous donation by Kay Cram. This Cram-Dulton Scholarship for International Women's Human Rights was designed so that I was able to work for the IWRAW project as a research assistant. This RA assignment gave me an opportunity to learn international activism of women at first hand. I am now teaching International Human Rights Law with a focus on women’s human rights in Nagasaki University in Japan and still work on Women’s Convention with Marsha Freeman, who was the Deputy Director at that time and now is the Director of the IWRAW, Minnesota. I was also fortunate to stay in one of the apartments on the 2nd floor of the 7th Street house of the Frasers during my study in Minneapolis. Arvonne kindly shared her New York Times with me every day. She marked the articles that she wanted to keep and I cut them out and gave these back to Arvonne after I read the paper. Both in the office and in the 7th street house, we discussed about many news on women around the world. She was always full of ideas and inspired us all around her. She always encouraged us with her big smile, which I can still recall very easily with her voice. It was such a precious experience that I was able to spend so much time with Arvonne in those days. Thank you, Arvonne – you made so much difference for me.
Posted by Judy Du Frene Hall on 30th August 2018
Arvonne and her sister, Bonnie are the best and most inspirational cousins that anyone could ever have. As a child they “babysat” me and my sister, Margot and in many ways were idols for me. I am blessed to have them and their family in my life and will do my best to pass the inspiration on to the women in my life....family and friends. They are the BEST!!
Posted by Vivian Derryck on 28th August 2018
Arvonne was my “shero” long before I met her in 1977. From Liberia, I had followed her work on women-in-development (WID) and advocacy for the Percy Amendment and cheered at her appointment as the founding Director of the Office of Women-in-Development at USAID. So when my family and I were relocating to Washington to be part of the new Carter Administration, I was delighted to get a meeting with Arvonne. She welcomed me with her inimitable warmth and asked me what I wanted to do. When I launched into the importance of girls’ education and women’s literacy she broke into a wide smile and we bonded for a lifetime. Arvonne recommended me to Sarah Weddington, resulting in my appointment to lead U.S. efforts in the 1980 Copenhagen Conferencee of the UN Decade for Women. Arvonne was one of the most effective delegates, easily forming friendships with delegates ranging from Jamaica to Sri Lanka. Arvone was also a great political strategist and a formidable organizer, whether for WEAL or a conference of women’s political participation in Bellagio. We worked together on all kinds of women’s issues, but more important we became good friends. Sometimes we would fantasize: I remember one phone conversation before the 1984 election when we agreed that Mondale-Ferraro were going to win because millions of women were going to come out in a great feminist wave to elect the first woman vice president! Arvonne mentored a host of women, modeling a committed feminist who saw the importance of listening, compromise and building coalitions. She also gifted us with an example of a marriage partnership in which she and Don shared a passion for public service with an emphasis on human rights, democracy- strengthening and women’s equality--both in the developing world and here in the U.S. Arvonne was my North Star. I thank her for rich memories and her legacy as a strong feminist and a global citizen of integrity and conviction that will continue to guide the next generation. Thank you, Arvonne.
Posted by Maricarmen Cortes on 27th August 2018
I had the privilege of meeting my dearest Arvonne when I was a H.H.H Fellow in 1985 and we have remained friends since then! I learned so much from her caring and strong style. So may memories and conversations we had over the Chilean dictatorship and its transition, on my dream to become Mayor of Maria Pinto...my dear Arvonne I will!!! Of the times she opened her home to host my MN friends when I would travel to visit. What a diamond of person so committed to public service and political activeness. And you passed on my birthday! Was thinking about you and honoring you all day, and will honor your life! For sure my dear Arvonne, I will miss you! Maricarmen Cortes, HHH Fellow 1985 and a MN fan!
Posted by Lori Sturdevant on 22nd August 2018
I first interviewed Arvonne on what may have been one of the longest evenings of the Fraser family’s political life – primary election night, 1978. She had arrived from Washington not long before I appeared at Fraser’s headquarters hotel – the Radisson, I believe, not the Leamington, given the identity of Don’s U.S. Senate opponent! She was tired and seemed dispirited. My hunch now is that she had already seen the vote counts coming from the Twin Cities and knew that they weren’t large enough to overcome an expected deluge of votes for Bob Short from the Eighth District. Arvonne could have ignored the 25-year-old rookie reporter from the Tribune who was looking for a few quotes. Instead, she invited me into the private portion of the suite, plopped down on the bed and invited me to perch at its foot while we talked. It was a gesture of kindness and intimacy that made me an instant Arvonne fan. A few years later when I was seeking extra income by moonlighting, Mpls/StPaul magazine dispatched me to write a profile of Arvonne. It was not long after the tragic death of Lois, the beloved daughter she called YoYo. I sat down to interview her with trepidation, wondering whether and how to raise the subject of loss and grief. We sat at the well-used dining room table as she helped me get through a tough conversation. At some point, we both wiped tears from our eyes, then got practical as we decided what should be shared with magazine readers. In sharing with her fellow citizens, then and at so many other times, Arvonne was extraordinarily generous. What I came to appreciate even more was her knack for saying just what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. She coached me through my early years as a working mother, inviting me to believe that I was not betraying feminism or risking hard-won career gains if I slowed down for a few years to be a good parent. “Women have long lives. We can have it all, but we don’t need to have it all at once,” she said. She had encouraging words for me as I moved from newspaper journalist to author, and confidence in me as we collaborated on “She’s No Lady.” I’ve been named as an editor on other book projects when in fact, I was the book’s ghostwriter. Not so with “She’s No Lady.” Arvonne is a fine writer who only needed an editor’s help to bring her essays together. It was an honor for me to play that role. Our friendship deepened in the last decade as we discussed children, grandchildren, husbands (mine, Martin Vos, adored her, and I think the feeling was mutual) and always, Minnesota politics. For Arvonne, there was little separating the public and the personal. Her ideas about citizenship and the duty humans have toward one another were always expansive and inclusive. When we were last together shortly before she died, we talked about things we would do together when my work at the Star Tribune ends. I’m so sorry that I won’t share those activities with her. But no matter what I do when those days come, I’ll remember Arvonne.
Posted by Barbara McMillan on 22nd August 2018
As an elementary school age child, I was at a Saturday political event with my parents. Precinct caucus? No idea, but the adults there were voting. Arvonne carefully explained to me that although there were three candidates on the ballot to be ranked, if there was only one you truly wanted, you didn’t have to rank all three. Only vote for one! What I took away besides the utility of the tactic and inclusion in the event, was Arvonne’s respect for the intelligence of children. Never too young to be involved.
Posted by Jane Sherburne on 20th August 2018
I am privileged to have had several incredible sponsors in my life. Arvonne Fraser was front and center. In my 20’s, new to Washington, Arvonne embraced me. Not with a hug, but with her conviction that she had ideas about how to make our country better, more fair and that I could help her make that happen. She didn’t so much guide or mentor me; rather, she just threw me into her world with confidence that I would make the most of it. I loved working with her, for her; absorbing her energy and clear-headed, plain spoken way of tackling seemingly intractable problems of social injustice. Barriers were just problems to solve. She was shrewd and understood power and politics; she used her gifts to make the world better and in the process made me better too.
Posted by Lawrence Oby on 16th August 2018
The memory of Arvonne I offer is from many, many years ago, during the height of the Vietnam war. It was on the footpath in front of their place on the St Croix. She was wearing a light blue sweatshirt with a white "peace" dove on the front and she explained to my mother that she was wearing it with some trepidation, but felt it was important to make a statement. I was perhaps 9 or 10 at the time, but that memory has stuck with me all these years as it was at that moment I became aware that there were views and opinions other than those of my conservative parents. I like to think that event helped me to develop into an adult with the ability to see and evaluate different points of view. Thanks Arvonne.

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