Wilford W. "Uncle Doc" Frazier

Obituary
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Wilford Wayne Frazier "Uncle Doc" was born March 7, 1923, in Santee, Neb., to Dr. George and Emma Scott Frazier. He was Whistling Water clan Apsaalooke Nation and Mdewakaton Santee. He was from the Blue Holy Lake.

In his youth he hunted pheasants to feed the family, was driver and chaperon for his older sisters and studied the Whiteman's education. When he was in his teens he went east to attend boarding school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., at Oakwood School.

After boarding school he went to Earlham College, a Quaker College in Richmond, Ind., where he met his future wife, Aileen Pickering.

His life took a turn when the Second World War broke out. Mr. Frazier joined the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific. Before he left for the Pacific he was taken on the buffalo hunt for the Sun Dance feast and he was prayed over at the Sun Dance.

Mr. Frazier returned from the Second World War to study to become a dentist, but lost his opportunity when he was recalled to serve in Korea. Wilford was part of the Marine force that moved north to the Chosin Reservoir where his feet froze but he survived the Chinese attacks. He walked out from the Chosin Reservoir with his fellow Marines. The walk out kept the blood circulating and saved his feet from amputation. He returned from Korea an unsung hero to be greeted by his wife and sons, Gregory and Scott. Mr. Frazier survived one of the coldest places on earth during his duty in Korea; he lost his dream of becoming a dentist.

On his return from Korea, Mr. Frazier was approached by governmental officials concerning a program that would educate and develop Native administrators for government service. Accepting this opportunity he joined the Public Health Department Division of Indian Health. With his family in tow he began training in Bethesda, Md., went to the Great Lakes for a short while, living in a cabin, and then spent a few years in Portland, Ore., working in the area office. Eventually he transferred to Billings in 1959, working as the liaison officer for the Public Health Department Division of Indian Affairs. "We had all the tribal chairmen and women for dinner at our house." He knew them all as well as high-powered officials from Washington, D.C. He transferred to Albuquerque, N.M., in 1970 as the deputy director, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service. He retired some years later due to health problems. Everywhere he served in the Indian Health Service he left a trail of friends and admirers who recognized his ability and devotion to the service and to the Indians he served.

During all his years as an official he was Little League and Babe Ruth coach for his sons in Billings. He spent every weekend taking his sons fishing in the summer in the Lamar Valley. In the fall they went hunting, and always they were rockhounds.

With his wife, Aileen, a world-class bead worker, they formed Frazier Beadwork and traveled nationally and internationally selling his designs and her creations. They were well known around the world for their art and beautiful beadwork.

He was proud to say he was a 50-year Mason.

Until his final days he lived by three mottos or requirements. The first one was given to him by his father: "What did you do for Indian people today?" He once told me that he asked this of himself every day. The second, "Never leave a man on the field of battle," and third, "Semper Fidelis," both given to him by the Marine Corps.

His education was at Earlham College and the University of Oregon, where he earned his bachelor's degree.

Relations: He was taught as Native people we are all related. He was Santee and Crow. Member NCAI.

Mr. Frazier was the best damn Marine. He was a China Marine that survived the Chosin.

A graveside service with military honors will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1300 Buffalo Soldier Trail, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Arrangements are entrusted to Jensen's Sierra Vista Mortuary.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 10, 2009
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