Carolyn Parsons Fraser, an Eastern Shore native who last year was named “Towson’s Favorite Mom,” died July 1 of renal failure. She was 88.
“She was not anything famous or anything … but in her own quiet way, she made a big difference,” said her daughter, Cynthia Fraser of Ruxton.
Born March 8, 1930 to Roba Parsons and Marguerite Hooper Parsons, a telephone operator, she grew up in a home that looked over the Choptank River in Cambridge.
She was a 10th-generation Marylander; her mother’s family traced their roots back to the Hoopers, who settled in the Eastern Shore in the 1640s with a land grant from the King of England. A lighthouse on St. Michael’s is named for them.
Mrs. Fraser loved to swim, once diving off the Choptank Bridge on a dare. She later received her Red Cross instructor’s certification and taught children from the Eastern Shore to Baltimore’s inner city to swim.
After college, Mrs. Fraser worked for Dr. Jonas Friedenwald, then one of the most renowned ophthalmologists in the world, at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. She later earned her master’s degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania and became a social worker for child protective services in Baltimore.
“That was really tough because she’s so sensitive and so full of love; she always tried to keep the families together if she could,” her daughter said.
In 1957, she married William Campbell Fraser Jr., a businessman. They had one daughter, Cynthia Ann Fraser. Mrs. Fraser loved being a mother, said her daughter, and considered it her highest vocation.
“She thought being a mother was the most important job in the world,” her daughter said. “She and I were super close.”
Mrs. Fraser’s nurturing extended to her community: She welcomed new neighbors in Ruxton with homemade brownies and looked after others even into her advanced age.
“She was 86 and she’s calling a 93-year-old after a storm saying, ‘Is your power back? Do you need anything?’ ” her daughter said.
In the early 1960s, Mrs. Fraser helped raise funds for the creation of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, once single-handedly stuffing envelopes for a mass mailing to prospective donors. “She didn’t have a whole lot of money but she donated her time,” her daughter said. She also lobbied Baltimore Gas & Electric to re-route her area’s power lines after numerous power outages.
While a student at Goucher, Mrs. Fraser had the opportunity to meet Eleanor Roosevelt at Hyde Park, N.Y. A few years later in Baltimore, she met John F. Kennedy while he was still a U.S. Senator. Both encounters informed her belief that “great people care about other people,” said her daughter.
A devotee of Stephen Colbert, Mrs. Fraser made sure to watch his show on demand every morning, since she went to bed too early to watch his show in the evening. She prized an autographed picture of the comedian that her daughter had gotten from him for Christmas, signed “Your fan, Stephen Colbert.”
“She was very hip for her age and even enjoyed playing Candy Crush on the computer,” her daughter said.
Neighborhood kids loved her, and one local girl nicknamed her “Sweet Cheeks.”
“People just thought she was the sweetest thing,” said her daughter. Her 88th birthday party included guests from ages 2 to 94.
A frugal woman, Mrs. Fraser cut her own hair and painted her own nails until near the end of her life. At age 87, she was entered in the Radebaugh florist’s contest to select “Towson’s Favorite Mom.” For her submission, her daughter wrote an essay about all the things her mother had done for the neighborhood.
“They called on Mother’s Day and said she was the grand champion,” said her daughter. The prize included a basket of goodies, including a gift certificate to a local beauty parlor, which she visited for the first time in her life.
“She’d never had her nails done” before that, her daughter said.
Though she wasn’t usually one to seek the limelight, Mrs. Fraser appeared to love her new title. When she went to GBMC for a medical appointment, she’d tell her nurses: “I’m Towson’s favorite mom.”
Private services were held Friday at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton.
Mrs. Fraser is survived by her daughter as well as several cousins and a goddaughter. Her marriage ended in divorce.