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January 14, 2003

Denver man devoted life to helping deaf community

From: Denver Post, CO - 14 Jan 2003

By Virginia Culver
Denver Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 2003 - William Fraser spent most of his life helping other people with hearing impairments.

Fraser, who lost his hearing at age 7, was instrumental in starting local basketball and baseball teams for the deaf. He also started a snowmobiling club for the deaf and, in 1973, chaired a national meeting of deaf Episcopalians in Denver.

He died Dec. 29 at age 82.

"He had a wonderful life," said his son, Forrest, of Elizabeth.

Fraser was born to a Greeley farming couple. Both his parents had been deaf since early childhood. His father, Richard, lost his hearing after a bout with scarlet fever. His mother, Helga, went deaf after severe ear infections. William Fraser lost most of his hearing after contracting tonsillitis.

When he was a young man, Fraser moved to Denver and began a decades-long career at Gates Rubber Co., where he helped make mechanical rubber goods.

He met Eva Arnold at a service for the deaf at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She had lost her hearing after battling rheumatic fever. They married Dec. 24, 1940. She died in 1984.

Fraser was constantly organizing, whether it was the Silent Athletic Club of Denver or men's softball and basketball clubs.

"In the '40s, '50s and '60s, the athletic clubs were the main social life for the deaf," his son said.

William Fraser was a past president of the Midwest Athletic Association for the Deaf, the American Athletic Association for the Deaf and the Denver chapter of the National Fraternal Society for the Deaf. He was senior warden (chairman of the board) of the All Soul's Mission to the Deaf, an Episcopal congregation.

A basketball tournament will be named for him in St. Louis in March. He will be honored posthumously for long years of work with the deaf, including his work on the hall of fame committee that chose outstanding deaf athletes.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his second wife, Doris Highsmith, a granddaughter, two stepchildren, two stepgrandchildren and a stepgreat-grandchild.

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