I have been fortunate in my life to encounter some of the finest people around.
But few have had a greater impact on me and my heart than my good friend Hal Fraser.
And, from the nearly 1,000 people who recently attended his memorial in Missoula, a good share of the state felt the same way.
A description of Hal, who everybody knew as Hap or Happy because of his broad smile and wholesome manner, surely can’t be defined by his occupation – he was a banker.
And it surely couldn’t be confined to his interests – there were too many to enumerate.
It couldn’t be restricted to the breadth of his accomplishments – he didn’t care to have anybody know about his involvement in myriad projects.
But any description had to include love. The love he had for his wife, Sharee, and their children and grandchildren; love of all things University of Montana, be it athletics or anything else to do with the school; love of baseball and the Missoula Osprey and the Oakland A’s and, of course, the 49ers.
But foremost, my friend had a love for life and a love for you and, whether you realized it, he brought success and, most of all, a sense of propriety to everyone and everything he touched.
His passion was infectious, his vision 20-20 and his leadership was beyond reproach.
Dozens of people affected by Hal’s different causes and ventures have surfaced to sing his praise since his untimely death. And I know the adulation would make the modest man he was quite uncomfortable. Hal Fraser realized the best way to move something forward was to get people with a variety of viewpoints working together. He would illustrate that a project served the common good, then inspired others to support it. He exerted a high degree of confidence and leadership to bring them to fruition.
It isn’t so important that you know what immense projects he undertook or was a part of. You’ve probably already read about some of them.
But what you do need to know is that he left a legacy of public service and dedication that might, some day, be equaled but never surpassed.
And he did so with a humble touch.
He was a true leader. He coupled compassion and understanding. He had lofty ambitions that he wanted to accomplish. But he also assisted others who just needed a helping financial hand or encouragement from Hal. Optimism – that is the legacy that will bear his name.
Surely his death saddens me immensely, but it also encourages me, and it should you. It may persuade you to rededicate, or, in some cases, begin to rethink your priorities and your attitude to increase your public posture and pay it forward.
Hal Fraser did and it’s the right thing to do.
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