Over the past three years serving on the Granville Community Foundation Board, I've heard the name "Carl Frazier" spoken more times than I can remember. And yet, I knew very little of this man who started the Foundation in the early 70's and was regarded as one of the most highly respected members of our community. That didn't feel right to me, so I called Terry White, his stepson, to ask if he could help me piece together the story of Carl Frazier. Terry and his wife Freddi, (shown above), live in a lovely house on Potters Lane. I arrived with the Foundation's high school photography intern, Emma Mortellaro. Terry and Freddi gave us a warm welcome, inviting us to sit and chat at their kitchen table.
In the first few moments of our meeting, Terry White shared with me the origin of his name, and right away I knew this was going to be an interesting story. Glenn A (Terry) White was just six months old when his father was killed in World War II. A bombardier on a B-24, Glenn A. White, Sr. loved the comic strip, Terry and the Pirates, in which Terry was a WWII aviator. For this reason, Glenn was affectionately nicknamed Terry. Although his name would serve as a reminder of the father he never knew, it was his stepfather Carl Frazier who would most influence his life, including leaving him with an indelible commitment to our community of Granville.
According to Terry, his stepfather Carl Frazier came from “humble beginnings.” An orphan, he was raised by an aunt in Newark. He came to Granville as a first generation college student at Denison University, where he paid his tuition by working as a janitor at Peoples State Bank in downtown Granville.* When he graduated from Denison in 1938, he continued work at the bank as a teller, then as assistant cashier. Fast forward to the 1960’s. At this point, Carl was President of the bank he once cleaned during his college days. A beloved and trusted member of the community, he served in the village and town government, as Clerk-Treasurer for the Granville Public Library, and on a number of boards as “treasurer of this and treasurer of that.” He even served as Mayor of Granville for a spell.
It’s hardly surprising that Carl Frazier, with seemingly endless grit and determination and with a strong commitment to his community, would decide to start a foundation whose “primary purpose” was to meet the needs of the Granville Community. Terry, a lawyer and age 27 at the time, was able to lend a hand filing articles of incorporation and securing nonprofit status for the new Granville Foundation. With the Foundation officially formed, Carl (along with Terry and friends Ed Roberts and Dick Paugh), began the work of bringing the Foundation to life. The year was 1971.
In order to meet the needs of the community, the Granville Foundation had to raise money. Freddi explains that “back then,” before mobile banking, the Park National Bank lobby was the hub of the community. (She can attest to this, having served as a teller at the bank for 25 years). Carl’s office was just off the lobby and he was already accustomed to walking out to chat with Granville residents. He now directed his conversations towards building support for the Foundation’s cause and inviting customers to the Foundation’s first meeting. Terry laughs that Carl was not adverse to “twisting a few arms.” The first meeting of the Granville Foundation brought together 45 Granville residents, each of whom gave a $5.00 donation. That evening, the Foundation raised $225.
By the time Carl Frazier passed away in 2003, he had spent over 30 years leading the Granville Foundation, tirelessly supporting the programs, projects and events that define our community. He used his many personal connections to build the Foundation’s donor base and endowment and involve Granville citizens in the Foundation’s work through service on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Today, the Foundation (now known as the Granville Community Foundation) has an endowment of over $2 million and has distributed over $1.2 million to more than 80 Granville nonprofits since its inception. At least 110 Granville residents have served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors since 1971.
I recently poured through Carl’s handwritten ledger books which meticulously record early donations to such organizations as Meals on Wheels, the Recreation Commission, and the Granville Fellowship (later to become the Granville Senior Center). Bulging folders of past paperwork stored in the office at Park National Bank contain countless thank you notes from organizations grateful for the Foundation’s support. Terry also fondly remembers joining Carl in shopping for and personally delivering groceries and toys to families in need around the holidays. (Today, the Foundation still provides much needed financial help for individual families in need).
Terry White was clearly deeply influenced by the profound civic engagement modeled by his stepfather. Not only did Terry play an instrumental role helping Carl start the Granville Foundation and serving on the Board of Directors for many years, he has also volunteered throughout the community, including serving on the Granville School Board from 1980-1992 (where he was instrumental in securing the 30 acres needed to build Granville High School). Like his stepfather, Terry understands that community isn’t just where you live--community is what we do when we support each other.
As Emma and I walked to the car after our meeting, Emma gushed "that was so cool!" I couldn't agree more. Not only did I learn an important piece of Granville history, I realized this was a story virtually unknown to both Emma's generation, and to my own circle of friends, most of whom are immersed in busy careers and child-rearing with little time to ponder how Granville’s past leaders have influenced their own lives. Certainly, this is a story worth telling--and remembering.
* Peoples State Bank was purchased by Park National Bank in 1970.