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Robert Fraser

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Robert Fraser Obituary
Robert Burchmore Fraser, the son of the late Alfred and Helen Fraser of Wellesley, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully at his home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts June 23, 2016. He was 87. Bob graduated from Wellesley High School (1946), Harvard College (1949) and Harvard Law School (1952). He became a corporate lawyer with a lifelong passion for public education and for the arts in Boston, the city that he loved. He is survived by his spouse, Hui Z. Liao, and former spouse Mary-Ann Fraser of Salem Massachusetts; a sister, Marilyn Fraser, of Sarasota, Florida; his children, Melanie Fraser Hart of Riverside, Rhode Island, Jennifer Fraser, son-in-law, James Boyd, of Auburndale, Massachusetts, Matthew Fraser of Salem, Massachusetts; and grandchildren Robert Fraser Hart, Callula Hart, Xander Boyd, Madeline Boyd, Lucas Boyd, Paxton Boyd, Seamus Boyd and Hayden Boyd. Bob joined the Boston law firm, Goodwin Procter & Hoar, in 1955, after serving in the United States Army in Korea. He practiced corporate law with a specialty in taxation matters. He loved his work and brought to his practice a sharp wit, an impressive breadth of knowledge and a consummate professionalism. With a mandate to align the firms organization, operations and governance, Bob was named the firms first full-time Managing Partner in 1984 and he became its Chairman in 1993. He led the firm for more than a dozen years, retiring in 1997. Goodwin more than doubled in size under Bobs leadership. It entered the 1990s as the largest law firm under one roof in the country, according to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Bobs most enduring contribution was his development of the firms institutional culture; he encouraged his partners to think like an organization rather than a collection of individuals and practices. He encouraged his colleagues to go beyond the boundaries of comfortable tradition and experience with his inimitable walk the halls management style. Bob encouraged the firm to become more involved in the City of Boston. With his guidance, the firm looked outward, providing its support to the City of Boston and its people and institutions. Perhaps the fullest expression of that support was a $1 million charitable endowment the Goodwin partnership donated to the Boston public schools in recognition of the firms 75th anniversary in 1987. It was called SEED (Support for Early Education Development) and was, at the time, the largest donation of its kind ever made by a professional services firm. Bob devoted countless hours of his own time to educational issues in the City of Boston, meeting after hours and on weekends with concerned community leaders and residents. His thoughtful and committed approach led to involvement with many of the citys significant education initiatives and organizations, including leadership positions with the Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools, Boston Adult Literacy Fund, Boston Partners in Education, American Student Assistance Corporation, Citywide Educational Coalition, Massachusetts Commission on the Common Core of Learning, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and Boston Bar Association Task Force on Public Education. He committed his time and leadership to many of the areas institutions of higher learning, serving as a Trustee of Lesley College, on the Deans Advisory Council at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and on the Board of Visitors for both Northeastern University College of Business Administration and Bunker Hill Community College. He also served in leadership positions and on the Boards of Boston Against Drugs, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Boston Public Library Foundation, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Jobs for Massachusetts, and the Boston Public Health Commission. Bob was a long-time champion of the arts. He was a classically trained pianist who studied with Alexander Borovsky in college and Roberto Poli in his later years. Bob performed with the Boston Pops and the Boston Bar Association Orchestra. Music was a vital part of Bobs life, and in retirement he competed internationally in amateur piano competitions, most recently in Boston and Berlin, where he was voted "Most Favored Pianist" his by fellow competitors. Bob facilitated the Rhapsody Piano Group and was an active member of the Boston Piano Amateurs Association. He opened his home for Rhapsody meetings and master classes, and his talent and enthusiasm for piano performance and his generosity and support for all amateur pianists was inspiring. Bob served on the Boards of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Boston Lyric Opera, and was Chairman of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts, an organization providing pro bono services for artists. Selfless, subtle and principled, and a great teacher and listener, Bob was beloved by all who knew him. He found spirituality and transcendence through devotion to family, work and music. He rests now, leaving a legacy of devotion to community and family. A Life well lived. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his memorial mass on Wednesday, July 6, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. in St. Pauls Church, 502 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02482. To sign the online Fraser Family Guest Book please visit www.everettfuneral.com.
Published in The Brookline Tab from June 26 to July 7, 2016
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