Donald M. Fraser

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Donald M. Fraser
1977 Congressional Pictorial Donald Fraser.jpg
January 1977, Congressional Photo
44th Mayor of Minneapolis
In office
January 1, 1980 – December 31, 1993
Preceded by Albert Hofstede
Succeeded by Sharon Sayles Belton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Walter Judd
Succeeded by Martin Olav Sabo
Personal details
Born (1924-02-20) February 20, 1924 (age 91)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Political party Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Spouse(s) Arvonne Fraser née Skelton (m. 1950)
Children 6
Residence Minnesota
Occupation Attorney

Donald MacKay Fraser (born February 20, 1924) is an American politician from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

Donald Fraser was born on February 20, 1924, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Everett and Lois Fraser. His parents were immigrants from Canada. 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. During college, he was a member of the varsity swimming team.

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 served as a member of the Minnesota Law Review and wrote a law review article on the illegality of racial covenants to land, a position supported by the US Supreme Court in 1948. 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. He married Arvonne Skelton in 1950 and the following year they welcomed the first of their six children: Thomas, Mary, John, Lois, Anne, and Jean (oldest to youngest).

Political career[edit]

1973, Congressional Pictorial Directory

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.

Fraser served as a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. 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.[1]


  1. ^ Donald M. Fraser Papers

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Albert Hofstede
Mayor of Minneapolis
Succeeded by
Sharon Sayles Belton
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter Judd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Martin Olav Sabo