ForeverMissed

Former Minneapolis mayor, congressman, state senator, and the most gracious man you could ever meet, Don Fraser died at age 95 on June 2, 2019 at home with his children at his side.  He was proceeded in death by his wife, Arvonne Fraser, who died August 7th, 2018.

Don served his city, state and country with a humility and calm demeanor that belied his intellect and determination. As a state senator in the 50s, Don got the Minnesota Fair Housing Act passed despite major opposition.He chaired the Kennedy for President campaign in Minnesota, and then went to Washington in 1962 as a U.S. congressman.

Don’s slogan was “A Strong America Begins at Home,” and so he pushed for civil rights, for voting rights, and for Medicare and Medicaid.He advocated for D.C. citizens to be able to elect a mayor and city council instead of being ruled by a congressional committee; a picture of him hangs in DC’s City Hall.And he chaired a commission that opened up the Democratic party to more women, young people, and people of color.

Don also worked on international issues, becoming one of the earliest congressional opponents of the Vietnam War.Later, concerned that countries receiving U.S. aid dollars were using that money to prop up dictatorships, Don wrote the law that requires the State Department to report on the human rights records of countries to which the U.S. gives aid.As chair of a House subcommittee on human rights, he investigated South Korea’s efforts to influence U.S. elections.

Don also supported women’s rights and protecting the environment, including a bruising fight to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area as a wilderness area.In so many ways, Don was ahead of his times.

Yet the job Don loved the most was being Mayor of Minneapolis, because he was so much closer to the people he served.As he traveled around Minneapolis, he listened carefully to what each person had to stay, regardless of their wealth or status.Sometimes, he would even stop to help motorists stranded on roads. Recognizing that the actions of the police were critical to a just city, Don brought in a new police chief to reform the department.When he became increasingly concerned about the economic and racial divide in the city, he endorsed Sharon Sayles-Belton to succeed him, the first African-American and first woman to be mayor of Minneapolis.

After he retired from public office, Don brought national attention to the achievement gap in education, advocating for universal preschool to help close the gap.

Don did all this while also being a loving partner to Arvonne, a wonderful father to six children, and a kind and caring grandfather to seven grandchildren.Until they reached their mid-80’s, he and Arvonne went on many BWCA canoe trips with children and grandchildren.

The best way to honor Don is to stand up for voting rights, for human rights, and for the protection of the environment.You can do that with your vote, your time, and your money.Please don’t send flowers, but instead support The Advocates for Human Rights, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Way to Grow, or another advocacy organization of your choice.

You are welcome to join us to remember Don and celebrate his life on June 16 at 2 pm at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. SE, Minneapolis.You may also add your experiences and thoughts to Don’s memorial website here.

Posted by Andrew Long on October 25, 2019
I didn't know Mr. Fraser, but I do want to let the family know that his very distinguished grandfather Alexander MacKay is being inducted into a Hall of Fame in Nova Scotia. I'll append the email I received from them, seeking descendants of Alexander MacKay. Mr. Fraser would have been the obvious choice....
Yours sincerely,
Andy

Good afternoon Dr. Long,

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee for Nova Scotia’s Science Centre, the Discovery Centre (www.discoverycentre.ns.ca). I am very pleased to inform you that the Discovery Centre is inducting Alexander MacKay into the Hall of Fame based on a nomination inspired by the CBC feature of your use of his botanical data https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/alexander-mackay-climate-change-children-science-1.5063352.

I was wondering if you might have contact information for any of Mackay’s descendants? The Centre will be inducting him into the Hall of Fame at its Gala Awards dinner in November, and we would love to have a family member accept the award in his name.

Many thanks for any help you can provide,

Sherry
Posted by NANCY FARNHAM on June 17, 2019
I had the absolute honor to have worked with Don over the years and have to say he is amongst Minnesota and national elected officials I respected most. Don was a leader in any issue fighting for those with a lesser voice and in protecting our planet. His support of early childhood education brought us together often in his later years and he was one who was happy to meet for coffee or lunch anytime to discuss options on fixing issues related to kids. He will be remembered as a true and honest leader and one of the kindest people to have graced the lives of so many.
Posted by JAMES SPENSLEY on June 16, 2019
I met Don at a fund raiser in about September1959 when I was a transfer student at the U. Don was intrigued by my southern accent and we had a talk about Huey Long.
When I got involved in student government, Don sent me a congratulatory note. I saw him at DFL and University events as MSA President, including a meeting with Al Lowenstein at the NSA Congress.
Al became the Democratic Study Group Executive Director. Don, Al and I worked on civil rights the Sit-ins and Freedom Rides. Then for years on campaigns, caucuses and conventions. He was the best candidate I ever met; he could find a useful answer for any question he was asked including some mean and gross ones.
What a Legislator. What a Mayor. What a friend. What a Father. What a man (person)!!
Posted by Rosalie Kane on June 16, 2019
My husband Robert Kane and I moved to Minneapolis in 1985. Because of my friendship with a nationally known social work educator, Esther Wattenberg, we were on the regular guest list for small dinner parties that Esther and Lee continued to host on into the 21st century. Don and Arvonne Fraser (as well as Art and Fran Naftalin) were often at those dinners for about 8. For us, born in 1940 and usually the youngest at the table, it was an enormous privilege, an education, and an inspiration to hear about past and present challenges in Minnesota and nationally in that salon-like atmosphere and from the knowledgeable,thoughtful, and empathic voices of Don and Arvonne. Whether thinking about the University, the city, the state, or the nation , they never lost interest, never stopped planning and caring or looking to the future with appreciation of generational change and human need. What a legacy! My condolences to the Fraser family.
Posted by Barbara McMillan on June 14, 2019
I would like add some personal memories from childhood. Don and Arvonne Fraser were very close friends of my parents, Gerry and Uva Dillon. I remember Sunday dinners with lots of children between the two families, boat rides on the St Croix River, all-day long swims in the summer, leafleting for Don’s races during campaign seasons — and always good humor toward the young by Don. Never a raised voice. Don liked to tinker with radios and clocks and machines in general and would be pleased to explain whatever the children wanted to know. 
I truly believe Don was one of the bright stars in the world: honest, intelligent, committed and caring. He will be very much missed.
To all the Fraser children, now adults, I send my love.
Barbara Dillon McMillan
Posted by Ruth Cain on June 14, 2019
Don Fraser was right every time it counted for the common good. I wish we could clone him. He would be so pleased about the new progressive young Congresspeople elected in 2018! He got things done with a quiet persistance as he brought others to his point of view. He is missed.
Posted by Joseph Baron on June 12, 2019
I had the privilege and opportunity to meet both Arvone and Don Fraser.
Don was a very gracious individual. His values inspired many human rights activists and human rights movements.
I hold Don Fraser in the highest esteem.
Don and Arvone both will be missed. I extend my deepest condolences to the Fraser family.
Posted by Mark Oyaas on June 9, 2019
I hold Don Fraser in the highest esteem. As a young kid I was part of a gang rounded up by his friends in the neighborhoood to drop literarture for his Congressional campaigns. I worked on the Fraser camapigns for US Senate and Mayor. My friend and business partner, Chuck Neerland was a close friend and advisor of Don's over many years. From that vantage point and from inside City Hall working for the remarkable Judy Corrao I saw Don's intellect and integrity at work for the greater good. He championed city governance reform, early childhood education and broke the cycle of police union factions appointing the police chief. Quiet yes, but he understood the power of his popularity as well as any mayor. He was often at odds with the council on big philosophical issues but could collaborate effectively when needed. Don and Council President Alice Rainville were the team that successfully championed a new convention center. The small sales tax that supported the convention center will be rolled over as the City's support of US Bank Stadium. Contemporary Minneapolis Mayors would be wise to learn from Fraser's style and step up and out when Council antics call for it. That leadership made Minneapolis a better place and cemented the legacy we celebrate at his passing.
Posted by Laurie Savran on June 9, 2019
When I was first endorsed by the DFL for library board I didn't know anyone in politics. I went to a meeting for candidates at city hall and asked for a ride to my car since it was raining. A very pleasant man offered me a ride and when I saw that his car was parked right outside the door of city hall I asked how he got such a prime parking spot. He looked at me and said, "I'm the mayor."  That was my first and memorable meeting with the kind, gentle and brilliantly effective man
Posted by Robin Phillips on June 7, 2019
Don was indeed the most gracious man you could ever meet. By living his values so publicly, he inspired generations of human rights activists and left the world a better place. I have met people from countries around the world who knew him (and Arvonne) and appreciated their many contributions to the human rights movement. We were fortunate to have him in Minnesota. I consider it to be one of the great privileges of my life to have known him.
Posted by Gary Rasmussen on June 7, 2019
I worked for Congressman Fraser in the mid 1960's. Joe Robertson, who was working for Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman referred me for the job. I remember all these years later that Robertson said that Don was the most moral person I would ever meet. How true.
I want to relate a story that illustrates his integrity and honesty. One time I drove Don to the airport and returning to Capital Hill could not find a parking place. In frustration I parked illegally and got a ticket. I threw the ticket away because it was common practice then for congressional people to ignore parking tickets. When Don heard about this he was upset and insisted that I go to the DC DMV office and pay the ticket. He would not even allow this very small transgression to happen.
His honesty and integrity were only matched by his intelligence, sense of fair play and hard work. A truly great person and public servant.
Gary Rasmussen
Fairfax, VA.
Posted by Geri Joseph on June 5, 2019
The City of Minneapolis was lucky to have had a mayor like Don Fraser. Don believed in the rights of the citizenry. Burton and I were good friends with Don and Arvonne for many decades. We worked together on many issues that I hope helped improve life in Minneapolis. We miss them both and extend our deepest condolences to the Fraser family.
Posted by Kevin Proescholdt on June 5, 2019
I will be forever grateful for Don and the incredible leadership he provided in saving the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Without Don and his enormous stature in Congress, we could have never gotten off the ground in that campaign. Without Don and his unwavering commitment to protect this special place, we could have never passed the 1978 BWCAW Act. He never let personal political considerations get in the way, and remained steadfast in his efforts to protect this incredible wild gem. Thank you, Don!
Posted by William Ball on June 4, 2019
My Mother Martha was a supporter of Don’s. In 1970 she was volunteering for Don’s re-election to Congress- I helped by addressing and stuffing envelopes. I credit them both for involvement in politics- In 1972 I attended my first caucus which led to a couple decades In many capacities as a DFl party officer or delegate. One summer Don and Arvonne had the entire 5th District DFL central committee to their summer home on the St Croix. I came to know them both, including my time as a board member of the Minnesota chapter of Americans For Democratic Action (when Don was national president). My fondest memory (besides the incredible DFL city convention in 1979 when Don stepped in to run for Mayor at the last minute) was Don - as Mayor- my guest of honor at my house warming in 1980! Truly the most humble, caring and decent public servant I ever met! Condolences to his family and friends - what a life full of contributions
Posted by Alberta Azais on June 4, 2019
Your light shines on.
--Fraser Person 1978. . .
Posted by Dennis Schustad on June 4, 2019
It was my honor to serve on the Minneapolis City Council during the entire time Don Fraser was our Mayor. As the only endorsed Republican office holder during much of that time, Don and I often had disagreements. Yet, I learned so much from him about working for good government and being respectful and civil. We were both competitive, even on the tennis court, but we always enjoyed working together. Don Fraser was a great official and we all benefitted from his thoughtful leadership. He is missed!

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Andrew Long on October 25, 2019
I didn't know Mr. Fraser, but I do want to let the family know that his very distinguished grandfather Alexander MacKay is being inducted into a Hall of Fame in Nova Scotia. I'll append the email I received from them, seeking descendants of Alexander MacKay. Mr. Fraser would have been the obvious choice....
Yours sincerely,
Andy

Good afternoon Dr. Long,

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee for Nova Scotia’s Science Centre, the Discovery Centre (www.discoverycentre.ns.ca). I am very pleased to inform you that the Discovery Centre is inducting Alexander MacKay into the Hall of Fame based on a nomination inspired by the CBC feature of your use of his botanical data https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/alexander-mackay-climate-change-children-science-1.5063352.

I was wondering if you might have contact information for any of Mackay’s descendants? The Centre will be inducting him into the Hall of Fame at its Gala Awards dinner in November, and we would love to have a family member accept the award in his name.

Many thanks for any help you can provide,

Sherry
Posted by NANCY FARNHAM on June 17, 2019
I had the absolute honor to have worked with Don over the years and have to say he is amongst Minnesota and national elected officials I respected most. Don was a leader in any issue fighting for those with a lesser voice and in protecting our planet. His support of early childhood education brought us together often in his later years and he was one who was happy to meet for coffee or lunch anytime to discuss options on fixing issues related to kids. He will be remembered as a true and honest leader and one of the kindest people to have graced the lives of so many.
Posted by JAMES SPENSLEY on June 16, 2019
I met Don at a fund raiser in about September1959 when I was a transfer student at the U. Don was intrigued by my southern accent and we had a talk about Huey Long.
When I got involved in student government, Don sent me a congratulatory note. I saw him at DFL and University events as MSA President, including a meeting with Al Lowenstein at the NSA Congress.
Al became the Democratic Study Group Executive Director. Don, Al and I worked on civil rights the Sit-ins and Freedom Rides. Then for years on campaigns, caucuses and conventions. He was the best candidate I ever met; he could find a useful answer for any question he was asked including some mean and gross ones.
What a Legislator. What a Mayor. What a friend. What a Father. What a man (person)!!
his Life

Don Fraser's Early Life

Fraser was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Everett and Lois Fraser, immigrants from Canada. His father studied law at Harvard, began teaching at George Washington University and became dean of the University of Minnesota Law School in 1920. Fraser graduated from University High School in 1941 and that year, he entered the University of Minnesota. During college, he was a member of the varsity swimming team.

Fraser graduated from University High School in 1941 and that year, he entered the   University of Minnesota. During college, he was a member of the varsity swimming team, and joined the US Navy ROTC,. 

He was placed on active duty in July 1942 and continued his naval studies on campus until February 1944, when he was commissioned an officer and sent to the Pacific Theater during World War II. Fraser worked as a radar officer into the peacetime that followed, ending in 1946. 

In June 1946 Fraser returned to Minneapolis to study law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Political Career

In 1954, Fraser was elected to the Minnesota Senate and served for eight years.

In 1962, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota's Fifth District. He served there in the 88th89th90th91st92nd93rd94th, and 95th congresses, from January 3, 1963 until January 3, 1979. Fraser is now best known for his work as the chair of the International Organizations and Movements subcommittee, a post he used to hold hearings on human rights violations in U.S. allies. As the historian Barbara Keys has shown, from 1973 to 1976, Fraser was a key leader in Congress in drafting legislation to reduce U.S. aid to countries whose governments engaged in a pattern of "gross violations of human rights." His efforts laid the foundations for much of Jimmy Carter's human rights agenda and transformed the way the U.S. Department of State operates, mandating that it write annual country reports on human rights and ensuring that diplomatic posts take note of human rights issues.[1][2] 

In 1978 he gave up his seat to run for the US Senate. He narrowly lost the 1978 Senate primary election to Bob Short, who then lost in the general election to David Durenberger.

In 1979, he was elected mayor of Minneapolis, taking office on January 1, 1980. His first mayoral term was two years, and he was subsequently reelected to three four-year terms. He was the longest-serving mayor in Minneapolis history.  Fraser left office on December 31, 1993.

He served as a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. His wife, Arvonne Fraser ran for lieutenant governor in 1986.


Recent stories

Eulogy delivered by Tom Fraser, son of Don and Arvonne Fraser at Memorial Service

Shared by John Fraser on June 24, 2019

As many of you know, our father had some traits and characteristics that did not predict success as a politician.  He was kind of shy, unassuming, and he didn’t talk much.  When he did talk, he was understated.  He was a math major/chess-club kind of guy.   He would rather listen to others than give an opinion of his own.  Although he could rattle off scientific data, he had a hard time remembering names and faces.  And he did not like asking people for money.

But he overcame these political deficits in one bold move.  He married Arvonne!  Someone who was not shy and understated, who remembered names and faces, and who was a master networker.  She did have a lot of opinions and, as Dad said about her, she volunteered those opinions without being asked.  And she liked organizing and running things, including his life, his campaigns, his office, and our household, all at the same time while perpetually pregnant with six of the eight kids they joked about having.  Together they enjoyed a personal and political partnership that lasted 68 years.
You’ve heard about the public side of Dad’s life, but I want to tell you a little about the personal side.  He was a full-blooded Scot, the product of two immigrants from Prince Edward Island and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  From his father, the dean of the law school for 28 years here at this University, Dad acquired an interest in both the rule of law and community service.  Right after WWII, a young lawyer named Earl Larson asked our grandfather what he should do.   Dean Fraser told him he should form a law firm that could be a base for lawyers who would get involved in the community.  
Earl Larson did that and happened to hire our father, among others, in this law firm, which became known as Larson, Loevinger, Lindquist, Freeman, and Fraser.  On election day, November 1954, the three most junior partners all were elected to office – Governor, state senator, and state representative – the two senior partners had to settle for becoming judges.
So together Dad and his law partners fulfilled his father’s vision of a law firm as a launching pad for community service.  And I might add that a guy named Fritz Mondale also passed through that law firm on his way to public office.   
From his mother, Dad acquired a different set of interests and aptitudes.  She had wanted to be a chemist but was prevented from doing so because she was a woman.  Dad, along with his four siblings, inherited her love of science and gadgets.  He was fascinated by electronic devices and loved to fix things.  Whenever an appliance or machine or a computer broke down at home or at the office, Dad fixed it.  He always had a voltmeter in his desk. 
Dad was, however, oblivious to some things – one of which was the clothing he wore.   Mom had to stay on top of him in that regard – in other words, Dad had to pass inspection before she would let him out of the house. One evening, he had to go to a black-tie event and she evidently decided that he should be “fashion-forward” for once in his life.  She told him to wear this fancy turtleneck she had bought him to wear with his tux – this was back in the 1960’s-- and he put it on as instructed and went to the reception by himself.  When he arrived, he couldn’t understand why these reporters, mostly women, rushed up to him.  Turns out he was the subject of a major fashion event as the first person to wear a turtleneck tuxedo to the White House!  And that was the first and last time he ever got mentioned in a publication called Women’s Wear Daily.

Despite his public persona, he was an active, fun-loving guy.  He played tennis every Monday night for 30 years and most Saturdays until he was in his mid-80’s.  He loved the water, having grown up spending summers on the St. Croix River, and swam every summer of his life, including last summer.   I’ll never forget the day I saw him doing a back flip off the diving board when he was in his 70’s.  He was an expert sailor, water skier and scuba diver.  And he went on BWCA trips with Mom, my aunt Bonnie, my siblings and me, and the grandkids, until he was 85 – Mom described those trips as “three generations of sibling rivalry.”

Dad loved to build things.  One dock he built was truly a work of art.   It was about 30 feet long, had a wooden diving board at one end, and at the other end, he designed it so that you could install an outboard motor on it.  Every summer, on my sister Mary Mac’s birthday in August, he would unhook the dock from its anchor chain, drop a motor onto it, and tool around the river with a floating birthday party of a couple dozen kids jumping off the moving dock and trying to get back on before it passed by.  Dad would tie a long rubber tube, or an extension ladder, to the back of the dock and he would be in the water hanging onto the very end of the tube or ladder and act like a center fielder or free safety by scooping up any kid that missed grabbing onto the dock as we went by.   
He was a laidback, easygoing father of six kids.  He installed a jungle gym in our living room, a darkroom in our basement for developing photos, and we had Morse code transmitters on the dining room table.  He taught us how to play tennis and chess and could beat us at chess without even looking at the board.  He never raised his voice with us.   Actually, he did raise his voice when he was singing to us, which he often did.  When someone recently asked us for his favorite song so that they could do a musical tribute to him, the family consensus was that his favorite song was, “What Can You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”  
He took his kids with him wherever he went, including down to his office and sometimes onto the House floor.  Consistent with his laissez-faire style of parenting, he did not care what we wore and he did not closely supervise us.  That is why we can let you in on two secrets known only to our family: First, a superball thrown down the halls of Congress will bounce off marble floors and walls about 100 times before coming to rest at the far end; and second, if you drop that same superball from the fifth floor of a staircase in the House Office Building, it will bounce all the way back up to the third floor!  
We are thankful that Dad was calm not just with us kids, but also under pressure.  If he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t have made it to Washington, D.C. to be sworn in, and neither I nor my brother John would be alive.  In December 1962, after his first election to Congress, we moved to Washington in a caravan of two cars and one tightly packed U-Haul trailer.  The trailer was towed by a 1959 Nash Rambler that Dad drove.  My brother John and I happened to be in that car at the beginning of the trip.   
My mother and her sister Bonnie were directly behind us in a station wagon, with the other four kids, including Jeannie, who was just two weeks old.  We were driving in a snowstorm.  Less than 90 minutes into the trip, we were on Interstate 94 in western Wisconsin going slowly down a steep, icy hill when the U-Haul trailer started twisting left and right, picking up the back end of the Rambler.  
My mother and Aunt Bonnie watched in horror from behind as our car was being bounced around by the bucking trailer.  Dad had to make a decision.  He saved our lives with his quick thinking.  He hit the accelerator --- when most people would have instinctively hit the brakes.  By speeding up, he started pulling the trailer instead of letting the trailer push the car.  If he hadn’t made the correct split-second decision, the trailer, which was heavier than the car, would have jackknifed and rolled us over – and seatbelts didn’t exist back then.   Right after that, he bought some rope and tied our doors shut for the rest of the trip. 
He may have saved another life – for one of his constituents.  One day while he was in Congress, in about 1965, Dad disappeared.  His office didn’t know where he was at first.  I kept bugging Mom to tell me where he was and finally she told me after she swore me to secrecy.  He went to Mississippi, under the radar, because one of his constituents, a college student who was down there protesting for civil rights, had been thrown into a Mississippi jail just for protesting.  Dad ended up getting this guy out of jail.    
Dad was, as you know, a man of principle.  He stood up for his staff.  Iric Nathanson wrote a nice article in MinnPost about that, citing the time when Congressman Wayne Hays of Ohio, head of the House Administration Committee, refused to sign a paycheck for one of Dad’s staffers because Hays didn’t like what Dad had asked this staffer to do.  But Iric didn’t explain how Dad made Wayne Hays buckle, so I will. 
When Dad learned that Hays wouldn’t sign the paycheck, he marched down to the floor of the House, which was in session, and promptly requested a quorum call.  A quorum call in the House takes 20 minutes because a clerk has to read off 435 names.  When the first quorum call was done, Dad demanded another quorum call, making clear that he was going to keep doing this, and stop the entire House of Representatives from conducting any business, until Hays agreed to sign that paycheck.  In the middle of the third quorum call, Hays walked over to Dad, caved in, and never did it again.
And you’ve heard about the Boundary Waters fight.  When an interviewer asked him why he would risk his political career over this issue, Dad responded, “There are times when one just has to do the right thing regardless of the cost personally.  This is one of those times.”  He never regretted protecting the BWCA and our family made sure he continued to enjoy the wilderness that he protected.  It was not just an academic subject for him – he had been canoeing up there with his friends from the St. Croix since the 1930’s.  And he and Mom spent their honeymoon canoeing up there.     
Above all, our father was a kind, gracious, and gentle person.  He never spoke ill of anyone, including his political opponents.  And he was a genuinely nice guy who remained humble because he didn’t know how not to be.   It never occurred to Dad to take his phone number out of the phone book, even after he started getting calls from Minneapolis residents, when Dad was mayor, at 6 or 7 a.m. complaining about garbage collection.  
One day, there was a hitchhiker on old Highway 12, now 394.  He was a young professor at this University who had escaped Czechoslovakia but had had difficulty getting into the US when he was being recruited by this University.  When a car stopped to pick him up, the hitchhiker was flabbergasted that the driver was the Congressman who had helped him get his visa to come here.  This guy later told people that “only in Minnesota would a Congressman pick up a hitchhiker.” 
Today, we celebrate the life of a kind, gracious and gentle man, who believed in community and public service, and who stood up for what he believed in.   One day when I was in high school, we were discussing the Salem witch trials at the dinner table.  Dad made a comment that I’ve never forgotten.  He said those witch trials and that era showed that “civilization is only paper-thin.”  We don’t need to be reminded of that these days. 
Thank you to our good friend Sarah Anderson and caregivers from Joyful Companions, all of whom did a wonderful job helping us take care of Dad.  Thanks to all of you for coming.  After being patient for all of these speeches, you are now primed for what my father always wanted when he came out of the Boundary Waters –  an “ice-cold beer.”  And we have that for you in the back, along with wine, pop, and water.  
We hope you will stay and mingle and reminisce.  The bar is now open!

Eulogy delivered by Jean Fraser, daughter of Don and Arvonne Fraser at Memorial Service

Shared by John Fraser on June 24, 2019

Welcome and thank you for coming.

I’m Jean Fraser, Don and Arvonne’s youngest daughter.

Thank you for joining us to remember and honor our father.When we were thinking about this service, we pondered how to reflect all that Dad accomplished in his life in one hour.And we decided that the listing of his accomplishments could be done on paper – in the obituaries and commentaries that have run in news papers on blog posts across the country, in the materials on the table in the back and in a listing in the program.So instead we decided to focus on what he was like as person – as a roommate , in the case of Vice President Mondale, as a colleague to Mayor Latimer, as a boss and mentor for Rip Rapson, and as a friend to Lori Sturdevant.And of course, as a father, to Tom and all of us.

And the reason for this is because if you read about Don Fraser, you would expect a big personality, a larger than life ego, a person who insists on my way or the high way.This is the image that American culture pushes as what it takes to be an effective leader.And it is this image – an image that is wrong in so many ways – that has led our country into trouble.

The reason this image is wrong is that it make us overlook so many people who are leaders, and it discourages some people who don’t look or act like big, powerful, loud white men from trying to lead.Of course, for some people, like our mother Arvonne, who was 4’ 11 inches tall – well that image just served as a goad to work even harder.

This dominant image is also wrong because the best leaders are not those with the biggest egos.Or the loudest voices.

Dad was about as far away from this as you could imagine.Don Fraser was a shy, introverted man who majored in math. Our father lead not by blustering, but by listening, and thinking, and constantly learning.He lead not by glorifying the past or his own accomplishments, but by leaning into the challenges of the present and seeking ideas and advice from others.

The best leaders lead because they are compelled, despite the costs that come with leadership, to make the world better for those they represent. They see positions of power not as an end in themselves, but as a means to an end. In short, the best leaders leader from humility.

Our father, Don Fraser, was the most humble, gracious man I ever knew.He made Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the world better.And he never claimed credit.In fact, this whole service would have made him incredibly uncomfortable.

The other myth about effective leaders is that they do everything alone.This could not be further from the truth. The only way Don Fraser did what he did was because he had a loving, supportive family, led by our amazing mother, Arvonne who died just last August.

I want to give a particular shout out to our Aunt Bonnie Skelton, who was our second mother and carried us through every summer and every campaign, and every birth of yet another child, and every move, and every tragedy we endured.

Will the extended Fraser family-- and this includes all the Skeltons here -- please stand and be recognized for all you did to support Don Fraser.

But our family was not enough.It took a whole community to get Don Fraser into elected office and keep him there.And it took advocates – for women’s rights, for human rights, for civil rights, for environmental protection, for each childhood education, for downtown development – it took advocates to support the ideas that Dad championed.If you ever worked on a Fraser campaign, if you ever contributed money to his campaign or to a cause he believed in, or if ever voted for him, thank you.

And finally, I’d like thank all of you who here who are serving, or have ever served, in an elected of appointed government role. Being in government is not easy; we know that first hand.Thank you for the sacrifices you and your family have made for you to be in government, thank you for your efforts to do good in the world, and thank you for your service. Please stand and be recognized.

I’d like to close with our father’s own words.He gave a eulogy for two of his closest friends in Congress – Phil Burton and Ben Rosenthal – who died within months of each other.As was usual, Dad spoke of Phil and Ben as doing everything, but he was writing about himself as well:

“We shared a common philosophy that brought us together.It was a philosophy invigorated by the optimism that most of us shared after World War II, that indeed a better world was within reach; and at its center was the acceptance of a claim for more justice by men and women everywhere, the rightness of the claim to be free of poverty and economic oppression, to be assured of due process under law and to fully and freely participate in choosing one’s own government.”

Honor Don and Arvonne Fraser by continuing to be optimistic, by continuing to promote justice and due process of law for men and women and transgender people everywhere, by continuing to believe that government – in the right hands – is the greatest force for good that humankind has ever created.Honor by continuing to advocate, to march, to write, to contribute, and to vote for leaders who lead with humility as Don Fraser did every day of his life.

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Shared by Barbara McMillan on June 12, 2019

I would like add some personal memories of Don from my childhood.  Don and Arvonne Fraser were very close friends of my parents, Gerry and Uva Dillon.  I remember Sunday dinners with lots of children between the two families, boat rides on the St Croix River, all-day long swims in the summer, leafleting for Don’s races during campaign seasons — and always good humor toward the young by Don.  Never a raised voice.  Don liked to tinker with radios and clocks and machines in general and would be pleased to explain whatever the children wanted to know.  

I truly believe Don was one of the bright stars in the world: honest, intelligent, committed and caring.  He will be very much missed.

To all the Fraser children, now adults, I send my love.

Barbara Dillon McMillan