Compassionate, committed, courageous, curious, calm, consistent, a communicator — the list of adjectives attributed to Virginia H. (Ginny) Fraser …
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Compassionate, committed, courageous, curious, calm, consistent,
a communicator — the list of adjectives attributed to Virginia H.
(Ginny) Fraser by friends and family might fill pages. And, it was
a life leavened with a sense of humor.
Friends and family planned to gather Nov. 29 at First Plymouth
Congregational Church in Englewood to remember her.
The activist for human rights, most especially rights of the
elderly, died Nov. 18 following a massive stroke, according to her
husband of 60 years, Charles H. Fraser, MD. She was 83.
In recent years, she lived with Parkinson’s disease, but always
continued her intense interest in the world around her.
Born in Cleveland, she attended Hiram College, where she met her
husband. After the Frasers moved to Colorado in 1957, she received
a master’s degree from the University of Denver. She had longtime
family connections to Colorado dating back to a grandfather who
practiced medicine near Aspen in the 1940s. Charles practiced as a
pediatrician at the Littleton Clinic.
In the early 1950s, she worked with the American Friends Service
Committee to help integrate playgrounds in Washington, D.C., and
even earlier, in the 1940s, she worked on a farm as a contribution
to the war effort. A life of service followed, which involved her
husband and four daughters in different ways.
“The world is clearly a far better place since she lived in the
community,” said longtime friend Libby Bortz, who especially spoke
of Fraser’s “incredible interest in older people.”
She worked with the League of Women Voters, on fair housing
issues, civil rights, alternative education and environmental
Daughters Cindy, Jan, Laura and Amy recall participating in
marches as she explained the cause they were supporting. Her
frequent letters to the editor inspired both positive and negative
She was a founding member of the Littleton Council on Human
Relations, served on the Arapahoe Community College Board, the
Littleton Planning Commission and received the Martin Luther King
Jr. humanitarian award. Deep involvement in the Littleton community
also included service on the Museum Board and many volunteer hours
recording oral histories of other longtime residents.
For many years, she met monthly with a group of local
women/activists, the Marias (named for the late Maria Kreye), to
discuss state, local and personal issues, including their own
She was honored with the Littleton Independent’s Most Valuable
Citizen Award and received many national awards for her work in
nursing home rights.
She wrote a book: “Understanding Senility: A Layperson’s
“For me,” she wrote in a personal biographical note, “these
issues, like those of protecting the rights of nursing home
residents, are all part of the same fabric of social justice.”
A nomination to the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame said: “As an
assistant professor at Loretto Heights College in 1977, she was
inspired by a class project to begin a new career and life mission
as a national champion of the rights of the elderly. As a longtime
advocate for women’s rights…she quickly realized that women
comprise the majority of people living in and working at elder care
facilities and that these women have the fewest resources and the
least power…. Her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease led her to
involvement in issues of dementia in the elderly. She was one of
the founding members of The Network for Special Elders. Which
became the Alzheimer’s Association. As Colorado’s Long-term Care
Ombudsman for 21 years, Fraser advocated for the elderly in nursing
homes and other care facilities and established a program that
other states have adopted as a model.”
She helped residents establish their own councils at many care
facilities she visited and developed a special Bingo game that is
used nationally in nursing homes.
Another facet of a rich, active life was the Frasers’ love of
the outdoors, where they enjoyed hiking, horseback riding, and
bicycling here and abroad, according to author/daughter Laura
Fraser, who contributed much of this history.
Ginny Fraser is survived by her husband Charles, daughters Cindy
(Brad) Taylor, Boulder; Janice Fraser (Roy Crawford), Evergreen;
Amy Mease (David Mease), Littleton: Laura Fraser, San Francisco and
four grandchildren, who called her “Gigi.”
The family suggests donations to the Parkinson Association of
the Rockies, 1325 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver CO 80222.
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