Mr. Hope; the name is the stuff of legend in Arkansas that almost anyone here, and certainly, many across Arkansas, attribute to a man who was modest in physical stature, but a giant in Arkansas business, politics, community service, education, his faith... George Frazier embodied the term in countless points of life.
Mr. Hope; the name is the stuff of legend in Arkansas that almost anyone here, and certainly, many across Arkansas, attribute to a man who was modest in physical stature, but a giant in Arkansas business, politics, community service, education, his faith... George Frazier embodied the term in countless points of life. Frazier, who died Oct. 20, at the age of 94, is remembered most clearly as a mentor of people who have given life to the name of this community, Hope. “I loved George, and I wish he had lived forever,” said former President Bill Clinton on Thursday. “George always gave more than he got, always with a smile on his face and spring in his step. His devotion to Effie and his children, his business, his community, and his friends knew no bounds. George moved to Hope and never left. He also never let those of us who were born in Hope forget our roots.” Clinton said his relationship with Frazier has been enduring. “When I was a young Attorney General, George asked me to introduce him when he was installed as National President of the Independent Insurance Agents of America,” he recalled. “It was the first speech I ever gave outside Arkansas. Twenty-three years later, just after I left the White House, I introduced him again at the IIAA convention when they recognized him for his lifetime of community service, vision, and caring. “I'll always be grateful for his friendship, and for his hard work and leadership in preserving my childhood home,” Clinton said. “We'll all miss the man many called 'Mr. Hope' and his wonderful Effie. They were a blessing in my life and it seems fitting to those of us who loved them they went to their eternal reward just 10 days apart. They belong together forever.” Clinton's reminiscence echoed the memories of another of his and Frazier's close friends. “Over the past two decades, people have called him 'Mr. Hope'; but, in truth, I always thought of him that way,” Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III, former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, said. “He personified everything good about my hometown: Its values, civility, compassion, generosity, and heartfelt warmth and charm. “George made helping others a way of life,” McLarty explained. “It came naturally to him. Not just the big civic projects, of which there were many, that strengthened our community, but the day-to-day acts of kindness and caring that meant so much to us all.” McLarty recalls a very personal example. “One example was when I returned home from Arkansas Boys' State after having been elected governor,” he said. “George organized a surprise parade that turned out half the town. Not even my family knew he was doing it. My parents and I were so touched. I'll carry my gratitude and humility about that occasion for the rest of my life.” McLarty said faith was at the heart of Frazier's life. “I also vividly remember a conversation I had with George when I was just starting out in business,” he said. “I was asking about his career, and he told me that his most significant accomplishment was serving as chair of the First United Methodist Church Administration Board. “George had his priorities straight: Faith, family, community and work,” McLarty added. “He set a sterling example, not just of how to be a consummate professional, but also of how to conduct one's personal life in a truly redeeming way. He exemplified the saying, 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.'” The faith and family bonds which Frazier and his late wife, Effie, exemplified were compelling, McLarty said. “As I noted when Effie passed away, the McLarty family has had the good fortune and privilege of having a generational friendship with the Frazier family,” he said. “And though it pains Donna and me to be saying 'good-bye' so soon to George, as well, I am comforted to know that the Fraziers are reunited in God's loving embrace. “George adored his family; his soulmate Effie, and his wonderful children and grandchildren,” McLarty said. “They brought him love and laughter and joy, and made him proud each day.” Frazier was a pivotal influence in his life, McLarty admitted. “Besides my parents, there is no one who had a greater influence on my upbringing, or who inspired me more, than George Frazier,” he said. “And, I know that my brother, Bud, feels the same way. “He will be missed, but he has left a lasting legacy on Hope and on his fellow man,” McLarty added. “I am a better person for having known him, and I will remember him, always.” Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Keith said the loss of Frazier defines the end of an era. “October 21, 2013, will be Blue Monday forever because that's when we learned we lost Mr. Hope,” Keith said. “From the time I came to Hope in 1988, George was a positive influence on me. He sent me business, encouraged me, counseled me; he never ceased being the kindest human being I've ever seen. He treated everyone the same whether rich or poor or in-between. His whole life was a lesson to younger folks. He was always available to help, to talk, to encourage. There are hundreds of us here he helped. I know he was ready to go, but it is a personal loss to me. George was always my friend.” Frazier was a pivotal influence to former State Representative David “Bubba” Powers in his public service. “George's legacy is well defined throughout this community and state,” Powers said. “To me, personally, he was a friend, a mentor, a stabilizing influence for much of my life. But, that's really an important part of his legacy, because hundreds, if not thousands of people, can say the very same thing. “I know all of us are thankful to have had the opportunity to have crossed paths with this kind and gentle man,” Power added. “I will miss him and that comforting and positive presence that always came with George Frazier. But, I will always cherish and appreciate the wise counsel and friendship he provided me and so many others for so many years. “He truly was 'Mr. Hope' and his impact on this town will last for several lifetimes. Our prayers go out to Tommy, Carol and Bo, and the entire Frazier family.” University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Chancellor Chris Thomason noted the faith of the Frazier family as a guiding force in their influence. “The personal sadness of losing George and Effie is overwhelmed by the divine blessing of having known them and been influenced by them,” Thomason said. “George, as he always prayed to do, left Hope and this earth as quickly as he could stand next to his perfect lady in Heaven. “The consummate Southern gentleman, George Frazier, in my opinion, was the perfect example of a man who was unwavering in his dedication to his faith, joyously committed to his family, and selfless in his service to his community, state and nation,” he said. “I thank God that I was allowed to stand in his immense shadow and pray to God that I can follow his example and cast a fraction of his shadow on my family and community.” Eighth Judicial District-North Circuit Judge Randy Wright remembers Frazier as a profound influence on his early years and his philosophy of public service over a 55-year friendship. “Initially, George was my best friend's father and my next door neighbor,” Wright said. “He was, along with Effie, an outstanding parent who welcomed visitors into their cozy home. Even for a young child in the neighborhood George Frazier was never too busy to spend quality time with us. He always was wanting to know what was going on in our lives and was concerned enough to follow up about events we were involved in. There was nothing about George that I did not like.” Wright said Frazier's influence upon his own family has been generational. “As we grew up, George became a mentor for me as a teenager and as a young adult,” he said. “He always cared enough about you to contact you by note or phone just to see how things were going. George was the inspiration to me to seek public service and to do so for the reason of service to your fellow man. He believed in giving back the blessings he had received. He truly loved people and believed the relationships you build with others was the sustenance of life. George continued to build relationships through out his life. “He was mentor for the youth at FUMC in his mid 80"s,” Wright added. “My youngest son, David, will tell you his inspiration for going to law school and seeking a life of public service and involvement in government was strengthened by the talks and encouragement George Frazier gave him during this time. George never wanted to quit being involved with the youth of our community or with the community itself. He loved being involved. I think it was his very breath of life to interact with others.” Wright said Frazier was unabashed about his love for his family and his faith. “As much as he loved his work, involvement with others and the community, his true love was his family,” he said. “He was a very involved father, always striving to provide the best for his children and grandchildren. And yes, the love of his life, was his wife and sweetheart, Effie. George and Effie are a love story in the lives they lived. During their later years, as Effie's physical health deteriorated, I would often talk with George and he always told me that life without Effie is not what he wanted and he prayed that he would pass away before Effie. He could not bear life on this earth without the love of his life. “George was a great witness of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Wright added. “I believe he was so motivated by his love of his Father that his life is such a great example of his walk with God. His life is the light of witness for God's great glorification. I will remember him forever.” Frazier was an icon both in Southwest Arkansas and the United States, not only for his expertise in the insurance business, but for his caring demeanor. “In 2004, I began getting advice from George when I first went into the insurance business,” said Cliff Knowles, who is co-owner of Anderson-Frazier Insurance Company in Hope. “To get into the insurance business at 50 years old is a big risk and I got excellent advice from George.” “I also knew George from Kiwanis,” he said. “I was president for a time at Kiwanis, and George was always earning awards for perfect attendance and, I think because of his military training, he kept everyone on their toes. He was a good friend and he will be missed greatly.” Hazel Simpson, president of the Hempstead County Democratic Women's Club said, “George was a real close friend. He was a dedicated community servant and he was involved in many community activities. “He wanted every color to be involved,” she said. “He was the first one to organize the Hempstead County Democratic Women's Club in either 1993 or 1994. I was the first black woman to be a member of that group. He will be missed.” Jeff Cook, interim director of Southwest Arkansas Arts Council, remembers his friend. “We were friends for 21 years,” Cook said. “My wife and I went to church with him at First United Methodist Church. He was an outstanding man and was a mentor at the church. He loved young people. I am very proud to have been his friend and he mine. “One of the things I remember about him is that every morning when he went to the mailbox, he would look up to the sky and say, 'This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.' What a wonderful way to start each day, don't you think? “He loved Effie with every ounce of his being,” Cook said. “He always said that he had married the most beautiful girl in the world. We will miss them both.” Steve Buelow, who worked with Frazier in the insurance business, reflected on Frazier's life. “George was an icon in Hope and Hempstead County, as well as the insurance business,” Buelow said. “He served in Arkansas and the American Independent Insurance Agency and he was the only person from Arkansas to ever serve as national president. “He was well respected on both a national and local scale,” he said. “He was a mentor for me and taught me a lot. I patterned a lot of business principles and ideals from him. “His relationship with Anderson-Frazier won't be forgotten,” Buelow said. “I'm very proud and honored to have been associated with him. He will be missed and the name Anderson-Frazier Insurance is very well respected. “I first met George in November, 1980, when he interviewed me for a job,” he said. “I started selling insurance in January, 1981. He had contacted J. W. Rowe, my father-in-law and asked if my wife, Donna, and I would want to move to Hope. He interviewed me and I took the job. “The opportunity to work for Anderson-Frazier is an opportunity that I will always treasure.”