Keith C. Fraser
Keith C. Fraser Keith Charles Fraser passed at his home at 347 Sawyers Crossing Road, Swanzey, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, after a long battle with heart disease and Lewy body dementia.
Born Aug. 30, 1939, to Leslie and Lena Fraser of Keene, Keith’s early years were spent as World War II unfolded and its aftermath. One of his earliest memories is the celebration of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day at his father’s home town in Nova Scotia, with relatives whose lineage dated back to the 1700s following emigration from Scotland and the Highland Clan Fraser. The Greatest Generation was Keith’s role model during his formative years and while the country was emerging as one of the globe’s preeminent nations, it was also a tumultuous time for the nation. Another war was brewing abroad in Korea, with his fellow campers from Camp Takodah going off to war leaving cabin-mates to closely follow newspapers and radio for any news of the war. Keith enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves with close friends at 17, requiring his parents’ signature for approval.
Keith graduated from Keene High in 1957 and Keene State College in 1961.
Navigating these complicated times, patriotism and public service guided his course with family and church the bedrock of life. He married Prudence ne’ Curry of East Swanzey in 1961 and together they embarked on building a life together. Following teaching assignments in northern California and Connecticut, Keith once again followed the path of service and joined the Navy. Graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned an officer in 1966, serving on the USS Altair, with tours to the Mediterranean and numerous East Coast assignments between Newport, R.I., and Norfolk, Va.
Transitioning from the Navy, he and Prudence ultimately made a home in a pre-Revolutionary War cape on a quiet country road in Swanzey, where they raised four children: Brenton of Smithfield, Va., Christian (Glidden) of West Springfield, Mass., James of Thomaston, Maine and Andrew of Seattle, Wash.
He continued his career of service, with our nation’s greatest treasure, teaching for 30 years at Winchester Elementary School and earning graduate degrees in education and one in business administration from Keene State College. Raising his family as a member of the First Congregation Church in Swanzey and serving on its board in time of transition, he was a member of the American Legion and one of the initial founding members of the Swanzey Lions Club.
In addition to teaching, he sold real estate with Barbara G. Curry Real Estate, his mother-in-law’s firm, during summer breaks. He and Prudence established a children’s clothing store, serving the children’s clothing needs of the area with the Rag Doll for 17 years, working there after school and on weekends.
Relaxation from work ranged from a round of golf to vacations with family and friends exploring the coast of New England, visiting the friends from the service, to the pink beaches of Bermuda and the islands in the Caribbean.
Following retirement from teaching and the store, he and Prudence had a rewarding antique business, Country Cape Antiques, where on any given weekend they could be found traveling throughout New England, taking in small town Americana and enjoying the history imbued in the antiques they purveyed. American flags were his passion and refinishing wooden furniture a trademark.
Throughout their 58 years of marriage, Keith was ever present in the lives of his children, whether at home or from afar, extolling the virtues of hard work and dogged persistence of goals, to a deep respect for country and the importance of education. He shared a passion for the arts, including the writings of Robert Frost to the classics, never passing a table of antique books without perusing for a good find. He and Prudence enjoyed plays and concerts from the local and regional to Broadway and had a great appreciation of Italian architecture and art from his time with the Navy in the Mediterranean.
Keith’s thoughts and deeds were always of family. He is survived by and lives in the memories of his wife; four children; five grandchildren, Ryan, Nathan, Catherine, Caitlyn and Nicole; and numerous other relatives and friends. Perhaps not surprisingly, given his exemplar in life, many followed in his footsteps with all the children and grandchildren going on to college and/or graduate education, followed by service to the nation in the military, careers in the teaching profession, teaching foreign language to Olympic hopefuls and English as a second language in the mountain steppes of Ecuador to custom woodworking and mentoring/coaching at risk youth.
A celebration of Keith’s life will be held at the Swanzey Community House, 18 Old Richmond Road, Swanzey, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 12 to 2 p.m. Family will remember Keith in a private ceremony in the Mountain View Cemetery, Swanzey, at another time.
For those inclined, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Keith’s name to the local Home Healthcare Hospice, P.O. Box 564, Keene 03431.
The Foley Funeral Home, 49 Court St., Keene, is assisting the family with these arrangements. Please visit www.foleyfuneralhome.com to leave an online remembrance.