William (Bill) Russell Frazer

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, March 19, 2024

William (Bill) Russell Frazer passed away on March 17, 2024, at the age of 95 surrounded by his daughters singing his favorite songs.  Even in the last few months of his life, he lived well, with a heart full of gratitude that blessed his family and friends (and even new ones that he made). His faith in God deepened and he eagerly looked forward to his homecoming.  

Bill was born on January 10, 1929, on the family farm in Buffalo, Alabama, just north of Lafayette. The Great Depression followed soon after his birth instilling in him a lifetime of thriftiness and a waste-not attitude. He never complained, unless it was about someone complaining!

Within a year of graduating from LaFayette High School, Bill was drafted into the U.S. Air Force and served in Korea where he served as a payroll clerk in the camps. Even then, he realized to be grateful for his position and to be thankful and honor those who were fighting on the front lines. His heart broke for those who lost loved ones and he talked about it until his final days. 

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Upon his return from Korea, Bill met the love of his life, Maxine Wear, a nursing student from Archer, Florida. Bill decided not to re-enlist though he had just achieved his dream of being accepted into flight school (later in life he managed to obtain a private pilot’s license). He was smitten and wanted to be a family man. He and Maxine married in November 1954 and were together 67 years!

Bill decided to settle down and graduated from Auburn University in 1957 with a degree in Forestry Management. He worked with Westvaco in South Carolina and fought swamps and bugs for 10 years while he and Maxine raised 4 daughters. Thanks to the support and encouragement of his brother Eley, Bill returned to his hometown and started Piedmont Foresters, where he worked long hours and 6 days a week to provide for his big family. He accepted the stresses of being a small business owner without complaint because he was grateful for the blessings of a job, wife and children.

Bill loved his community in LaFayette and for many years coordinated the Chambers County Landowners’ Conferences as well as Teacher Education Days. He was honored with the prestigious Auburn University W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award in 2013. There are some who suspect that leading workshops and conferences were just a way to get a rag-tag band together and have a captive audience for his “jokes”. 

After selling Piedmont Foresters, Bill did not retire (much to his wife Maxine’s relief) and went on to achieve an appraisal certification and appraise land and homes for several years. But this new career pursuit did not use up all of his energy; based on his love for music, Bill organized a variety of bands. He called these get togethers Hootenannys and is responsible for adding that word back to the vernacular. 

All this time, Bill managed to run a volunteer lawn care service and put in 9 miles a night on his bicycle. Sadly, due to an old water ski injury, Bill had to hang up his helmet at the age of 89 and a half. He continued to mow lawns, even for those who did not ask for it, until he wore out the ZTR. He did not let obstacles drag him down; he counted his blessings nightly.

But the most joy that Bill took in the twilight years of his life beyond his wife and kids and grandbrats, as he fondly called them, was writing the weekly humor column for the LaFayette Sun. He thought of many a column on his nightly bike rides and could not wait to submit them every week. He also had a precious group of friends dubbed The Yard Birds that he met with every afternoon in the front yard of his home who helped him cope with the loss of a wife and encouraged him in his faith.

And lastly, as Bill’s body begin to fail, he accepted the transition into long term care with a heart full of thanks for those helping this “broken old man.” He didn’t just love people, he loved and respected the dignity of those whom he saw as made in the image of God. He continued to count his blessings aloud, blessing all those who heard. And as the pastors and godly friends visited, God graciously strengthened Bill’s faith so that in his final hours, he knew with assurance that he was a child of God and would soon see his Lord and Savior face to face. He loved his girls, and he took his last breath with his daughters holding his hands and singing songs he taught them from childhood.

Bill was preceded in death by his brother Eley Frazer and sister Dantzler Lewallen, his wife Maxine and two grandsons, Alex Darden and Carson Buchner.  He is survived by his four daughters, Terri Darden (Tom);  Tami Robison; Tina Buchner (Bryant); and Traci Martin (Pat) and grandchildren Hayley Darden, Frazer Darden, Grace Robison, Sophie Robison, Will Buchner, Jeb Buchner (Jessie), David Buchner, Tanner Martin, McLane Martin, Andie Martin.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a gift to the Lanett First Baptist Church of Lanett, AL or The Fuller Center. 

Services will be held at the First Baptist Church of Lanett on Saturday, March 23rd at 1pm EST.  

A brief visitation will be at 12:30pm and a graveside service will take place in Lafayette at 2pm EST (1pm CT).