Donald MacKay Fraser, mayor, Former United States Representative, Minnesota. Bar: Minnesota 1948. Recipient 1st Minnesota International Human Rights award, 1985, Distinguished Service award Minneapolis United Way, 1992; fellow Kennedy School, spring 1994.
Donald Fraser was born on February 20, 1924, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Everett and Lois Fraser. His father studied law at Harvard, began teaching at George Washington University and became dean of the University of Minnesota Law School in 1920.
Donald Fraser graduated from University High School in 1941 and that year entered the University of Minnesota.
Having joined the Navy ROTC, he was placed on active duty in July 1942 and continued his naval studies on campus until February 1944, when he was commissioned an officer and sent to the Pacific Theater during World War II. Fraser worked as a radar officer into the peacetime that followed, ending in 1946. Following his service, in June 1946 Fraser returned to Minneapolis to study law at the University of Minnesota Law School. Fraser earned his law degree in 1948 and was admitted to the bar the same year.
He joined the politically active firm of Larson, Loevinger, Lindquist, Freeman, and Fraser. Fraser engaged in general law practice and served as municipal attorney for the suburban community of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. In 1954, Fraser was elected to the Minnesota Senate and served for eight years ending in 1962 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota's Fifth District.
He served there in the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, and 95th congresses, from January 3, 1963 until January 3, 1979, giving up his seat to run for the U.S. Senate. He narrowly lost the 1978 Senate primary election to Bob Short, who then lost in the general election to David Durenberger. Fraser served as president of Americans for Democratic Action from 1974 to 1976.
He was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1979, taking office on January 1, 1980. His first mayoral term was two years in length, and he was subsequently reelected to three four-year terms. He was the longest-serving mayor in Minneapolis history.
Fraser left office on December 31, 1993, succeeded by the city's first female and first African-American mayor, Sharon Sayles Belton. Arvonne Fraser ran for lieutenant governor of Minnesota in 1986. Donald M. Fraser's papers are available for research use.
The collection is particularly strong in its documentation of international relations, Democratic party policy and reform, human rights issues, environmental conservation, and women’s issues in the 1960s and 1970s.
Chair health committee United States Conference Mayors. Board directors Minneapolis United Way, 1986-1993, Twin Cities Rise!, 1994—2002, Connect/United States-Russia, since 1994, Greater Minneapolis Council Churches, 2000-2003. Co-chair Center for International Policy, 1976-1994, Early Care and Education Finance Commission, 1999-2002.
Co-founder, chair Democratic Farmer-Labor Education Foundation. President Southeast Minneapolis Council on Learning, 2003-2005. Co-chair, board directors Ready 4K, since 2001.
Member Minneapolis Charter Commission, 1997-2004. Initiated numerous youth programs such as Transitional Work Internship Program, Youth Work Internship Program, Neighborhood Early Learning Centers, Youth Coordinating Board, Youth Trust. Lieutenant (junior grade) United States Naval Reserve, 1944-1946.
Member Minneapolis Foreign Policy Association (president 1952-1953), Citizens League Greater Minneapolis (secretary 1951-1954), Minnesota Bar Association, Hennepin County Bar Association, Americans for Democratic Action (national chairman 1973-1976), Democratic Conference (national chairman 1976-1978), University Minnesota Law Alumni Association (director 1958-1961), University District Improvement Association (president 1950-1952), National League of Cities (Second vice president 1991, 1st vice president 1992, president 1993), Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (co-founder, board directors 1983-1992, 2000-2003), League of Minnesota Cities (board directors 1991-1993, co-chairman Ready 4K since 2005).
Married Arvonne Skelton, June 30, 1950. Children: Thomas Skelton, Mary MacKay, John DuFrene, Lois MacKay (deceased), Anne T. (deceased), Jean Skelton.
Recipient 1st Minnesota International Human RigRecipient 1st Minnesota International Human Rights award, 1985, Distinguished Service award Minneapolis United Way, 1992. Fellow Kennedy School, spring 1994.