Professor Joe Frazier (1926-2011)

Longtime history and geography professor passed away May 17.

The University community mourns the loss of longtime history and geography professor Joseph K. (Joe) Frazier, who passed away on May 17, 2011 at the age of 85.

Mr. Frazier taught and mentored students at Pacific and supported colleagues here from 1968 to 1992, and received faculty emeritus status upon retirement.

A 1950 alumnus of Reed College, Mr. Frazier taught at Portland State University prior to his appointment at Pacific. 

His passion for teaching "a kind of history of ideas, seen through everything," manifested itself in the experiential work he challenged his students with.

Frazier was known for having his classes explore the outdoors in search of historical artifacts that could reveal stories of local landscapes.

During a summer course he taught between Pacific semesters, Frazier had Portland State students prowling the Portland waterfront to search for remnants of streetcar tracks, tangling with blackberry bushes in the West Hills and exploring an abandoned dry dock under the St. Johns Bridge.

In a 1973 interview with The Oregonian's Paul Pintarich, Frazier offered a glimpse of his pioneering pursuit of historical context: "Crawling the blackberries is important on the West Hills. You find steps to nowhere, reminders of unfulfilled subdivisions, and ironwork revealing it was cheaper to pay blacksmiths for wrought iron then than now."

Former University president Robert Duvall credited Frazier with bringing exceptional colloquiums to the University.

His obituary in The Oregonian states: "We knew him as a loving husband and father, a man of learning, a friend with a great sense of humor, and a staunch supporter of Democratic ideals and humanistic values. We will miss his laughter, his knowledge, his support, and his love."

Mr. Frazier's generosity to the University came in the form of monetary gifts and a number of historical periodicals he donated to the Library. 


Posted by Joe Lang ( on May 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

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