James L. Fraser, 82, founder of Fraser Management Associates, Inc., investment counselor, writer and artist, died peacefully at home in Williston, on Feb. 4, 2013.
Born in 1930 in Paris, Mr. Fraser was the son of Leon and Margaret Maury Fraser of New York City and North Granville, N.Y.
He attended the Buckley School in New York City, Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass., Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. and Dartmouth College, graduating in 1952. While at Dartmouth, he majored in economic geography and was a Rufus Choate Scholar as well as a Senior Fellow, one of 10 seniors chosen each year for their intellectual caliber, independence of character and imaginative curiosity, and allowed to generate and control their own senior year curriculum.
Following college, Mr. Fraser married Mary Ann Gunther. He served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps and was stationed in Tokyo toward the end of the Korean War. Receiving an honorable discharge, he moved to New York City and worked for First National City Bank. Subsequently, he worked for the brokerage firm of Hayden, Stone & Company of Glens Falls, N.Y. while living in North Granville, N.Y. with his wife and three children. In addition to his professional efforts, Mr. Fraser served the community in many ways, ranging from president of the Lion’s Club, Boy Scout leader, member and clerk of the Board of Education, and president of the volunteer fire department.
In 1961, Mr. Fraser founded the Fraser Publishing Company in Wells, Vt., which published books focusing on creativity and independent thinking as it relates to investments, speculation, socio-economics and the history of Wall Street. These books were called the Contrary Opinion Library. He also was publisher and editor of various economic and investment letters including The Neill Letter of Contrary Opinion, written by his mentor and founder of the Contrary Opinion investment philosophy, Humphrey Neill, and The Contrary Investor. Mr. Fraser also collected and sold out of print books on these topics eventually creating one of the largest collections in the U.S., much of which has been given to the Museum of American Finance.
From1963 to 2004, he was the chairman of the Contrary Opinion Forum, a gathering of investors from around the world pursuing independent thinking. The Forum, which takes place in Vermont, celebrated its 50th year in 2012. Additionally, Mr. Fraser was the Vermont coordinator of the World Future Society for 20 years, exploring the future of Vermont with local leaders at monthly luncheons.
In 1969, Mr. Fraser moved Fraser Publishing to Burlington, where in 1971, he also founded Fraser Management Associates, Inc., a financial and investment counsel firm which employed the Contrary Opinion investment philosophy. In the late 70s, he was a columnist for U.S. News and World Report, as well as a columnist in Better Investing. While in Burlington, Mr. Fraser also served on the board of Champlain Drug and Alcohol for many years.
In 1970 he divorced, and then in 1973 married Victoria Keller Becker, an artist and administrator.
A longtime athlete, Mr. Fraser was an excellent downhill skier, he also played squash and could often be seen bicycling through Burlington to business appointments occasionally wearing a top hat. He played ice hockey until he was 66 years old.
In addition to being athletic, Mr. Fraser was a photographer and artist, creating a number of unusual drawings. He was devoted to trees of all kinds, raspberry bushes and nature in general.
Mr. Fraser was most known for the wide range of his intellectual curiosity, his optimistic perspective on the world, his ability to withstand and overcome adversity, his wonderful sense of humor, his trusting nature, kindness and generosity. His jokes at various conferences and meetings, and among friends, were eagerly anticipated.
During the last nine years of his life, Mr. Fraser was extraordinarily well cared for at home by his wife of 39 years, Victoria, and a team of devoted caregivers. Their love and tender kindness made the completion of his life full of beauty and peace. The family would particularly like to recognize Joan Peters, Zia Emmanuel Gbau, and Louise Brown for nine years of loving attention to Jim, and caregivers Judson Kimble, Trisa Gay and April Thompson for years of high quality caretaking.
Mr. Fraser is survived by his wife, Victoria K. Fraser; son, Mark Fraser of Burlington; daughter, Maury Tooley of Arlington, Vt.; the grandson he and Victoria raised, Christopher Fraser of Boston, Mass.; additional grandchildren Travis Norton, Emily Gillis, Rebecca Tooley, Elizabeth Tooley, Meagan Tooley, and Douglas Fraser; and six great-grandchildren.
Mr. Fraser was pre-deceased by his parents and his son, Kevin Fraser.
Donations in lieu of flowers are suggested to Branch Out Burlington!, a volunteer organization that helps plant and care for Burlington’s trees. Their goal is a city graced by beautiful, healthy trees and citizens involved with the sustained conservation and growth of the urban forest that Jim loved so much. Contributions are tax-deductible. Checks should be made out to Branch Out Burlington!, C/O Margaret Skinner, 93 Howard Street, Burlington, VT 05401.
Visiting hours were held on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. A memorial service was held on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. in Christ Church, Presbyterian on the Redstone Campus at the University of Vermont followed by a reception. A memorial celebration event is anticipated in the summer. To send online condolences, please visit www.readyfuneral.com.