David Fraley, a well-known local businessman with a sense of civic duty and love of archaeology, died Friday. He was 63.
According to his obituary, Fraley was born April 2, 1955, in Abilene, Texas, to Billy Jack and Alicia Fraley and “died in the mountains he loved, surrounded by some of his favorite people.”
For decades, he owned and operated Fraley & Co., a Cortez-based propane company that he sold in 2014 to retire. His grandfather founded the company in 1939, and Fraley’s father took the reins of the company and moved the office to Cortez in 1958.
Besides heating homes for more than five decades, Fraley contributed his time to support the community, volunteering for local boards and projects, said Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek.
“David was a good and kind man who loved his community and gave freely of his time and resources to benefit it,” she said. “If a project benefited the community, there was a good chance that David Fraley was involved! His passing will leave an empty space in the heart of this community.”
One of his recent projects was serving as co-chairman for the upcoming Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days, Sept. 12-14 in Cortez.
Fraley also loved archaeology and served on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center board of trustees since 2011. He was set to become board chairman later this year.
“One of the things that made David such a wonderful choice for our new board chair was his deep connection to our greater Cortez community,” said Liz Perry, Ph.D., president and CEO of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. “It was a passion for David that Crow Canyon build more and greater relationships locally and truly become a friend and member of the local community.”
Fellow board member Richard Ballantine said Fraley’s insights and leadership were always valued.
“His good judgment about people and events always contributed to the decision-making which led to a stronger and more effective archaeological research center and school,” Ballantine said. Fraley’s experience with his successful family business made him an effective chairman of the Crow Canyon audit committee as well, Ballantine said.
Fraley’s contributions to the community were meaningful, and his loss will be felt, his friends and colleagues said over the weekend.
“David was straightforward and respectful in his dealings with everyone. He had common sense, but was also highly intellectual, and that allowed him to understand and appreciate the complexities of the world,” said Mark Varien, Ph.D., executive vice president of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon. “David’s keen intellect, his passion and support for Crow Canyon’s mission, his skills as a successful businessman and his ability to interact with everyone from all walks of life were invaluable assets to Crow Canyon.”
His was a good life that ended too soon, said friend Bill Lipe.
“As a friend, I will miss Dave’s good humor and quiet counsel, and I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Kristine, and his family,” Lipe said.
David had a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder and worked as an archaeologist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Montana, from 1979 to 1987. He also worked at Mesa Verde National Park as an interpreter in 1975, 1976 and 1978. He later became president and CEO of Fraley & Co., a family-owned petroleum business in Cortez and Farmington, which he sold in 2014.
Fraley is survived by his wife, Kristine of Cortez; his four children, Rebecca Fraley (Matt Shethar) of Lewis; Aeron Clason (Sean) of Cortez; Kayla Acott of Seattle; and Tell Acott of Camp Frank Merrill, Georgia. Also surviving Fraley are his two brothers, Richard Fraley (Jeanette) of Golden, and Joel Fraley (Michele) of Portland, Oregon, as well as a niece and two nephews, two grand-dogs, numerous guitars and many good friends. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A service will be held Friday at 4-7 p.m. at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, in Cortez. The family asks in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in his name to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.