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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Tribute to a "Can-Do" lawyer

By Barry Schrader..................................December 16, 2004

"Where are the clowns? Send in the clowns…there ought to be clowns; don't bother, they're here."

Those words to a popular musical came to mind as I sat with an overflow congregation at St. Michael's Catholic Church Monday, paying our last respects to one of Livermore's finest gentlemen-Keith Fraser.
The Rotary rodeo parade committee made a mistake in selecting the Grand Marshal last June-it should have been Keith Fraser without a doubt. He gave a lifetime of community service to those he loved and knew-most of "old Livermore." The parade and the community will be poorer with the loss of not only a respected barrister, but a fine clown and magician to boot. Kandu and his gaggle of Livermore clowns brightened every parade here for decades.
Memories flooded back as I sat contemplating the loss. I recalled a rodeo parade in the early Eighties when a man dressed in a clown costume with bulb nose, orange hair and fully painted face approached me. He called me by name and asked if I was announcing the rodeo parade. The stranger then proceeded to ask that I not announce his name over the PA system, "just keep us anonymous" was his request. Finally it dawned on me who was behind the face paint and I said, "Keith, you are too modest, and everyone would love to know who is in that costume…" That was the kind of public spirited person he was, preferring to remain low key and unidentified for parade goers. But over the years I denied that request and mentioned him by name from the judging stand every time I could. He deserved that recognition-and much more.
I first got acquainted with Keith in the early 1970s when he would stop by the newspaper office at Third and I in Livermore and ask for press credentials to cover the Bing Crosby Golf Classic, since he wanted to go, and offered to bring back some photos for our sports pages. I always obliged, and sure enough, he would produce great shots of celebrities and famous golfers. Then I started noticing his photo entries in the Alameda County Fair were winning prizes. And mine weren't. In fact I submitted about three at a time and would be lucky to have one accepted. So I good naturedly accused him of having an "in" with the fair photo judges, but he assured me his wife, Marilyn, was not in charge of judging, even though she did work at the fair.
His reputation as an accomplished shutterbug caused his law office partners to tease that "the rise and fall of Kodak stock depended on how much film Keith bought that particular week." He photographed his kids and grandkids, sporting events, clown gatherings, community events, and just about anything else that moved or looked scenic. I particularly admired his skilful Yosemite photography. Let's hope the Alameda County Fair will feature a "retrospective" of his photographs, and maybe include a portion of his extensive antique camera collection for fairgoers to enjoy next June.
It is certainly true what his lifelong friend Gordon Rasmussen said at the funeral: "When Keith spoke (at a board meeting or council meeting) everybody listened." Gordon summed it up best in closing with: "Keith is up there (in Heaven) in a red truck, in his clown suit, spreading happiness forever!" There were a lot of amateur clowns in the church that day, and hardly a dry eye among them….
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Here's the "history mystery" question for this week: Whose picture appears on every page of the strange new website: www.historydetectives.info and the first person to solve that will get an autographed photo!

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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