When Don Fraser died June 2 at the age of 95, Minnesotans didn’t just lose a politician, we lost an icon. Serving in the state Legislature, the U.S. Congress and, finally, as mayor of Minneapolis — a position he held for 14 years, the longest tenure of any Minneapolis mayor — he exuded calm and humility, a trait often missing in today’s political climate.
He was known to pull over and help stranded motorists change a flat tire, not because it might mean another vote but because he and his wife, Arvonne, who died last year at 92, dedicated their lives to helping people. Long after retiring from politics, he remained active promoting causes he believed in, among them education and civil rights.
His influence was so extensive that despite his history at Minneapolis City Hall, a picture of him also hangs in City Hall in Washington, D.C. He’s remembered there as the congressman who led the charge to have residents of the District of Columbia be able to elect their own officials instead of having them assigned by a congressional committee. It was, he argued, the fair thing to do.