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Local News

Longtime Joliet city leader Bob Fraser dies

Bob Fraser helped Joliet through two recessions in his 43 years with the city

A lifelong Joliet resident, Bob Fraser started working for the city in 1961 and retired as the director of management and budget in 2007.
A lifelong Joliet resident, Bob Fraser started working for the city in 1961 and retired as the director of management and budget in 2007.

Bob Fraser, who lived his whole life in Joliet, devoted his professional career to the city and led it through two recessions, died Saturday.

"He spent his whole career and his whole life trying to make Joliet a better place," Fraser's son Brent Fraser said.

"He loved this city, he really did, and he spent his whole career trying to make it better for other people," Brent Fraser said.

Bob Fraser, 84, a graduate of Joliet Township High School, started working for Joliet in 1961 as a deputy collector while he was still a student at what was then Lewis College. By 1964, he was working with then City Manager Aaron Marsh on Joliet's first ever budget.

Fraser was acting city manager in 1967. In 1971, he left to work in the private sector but was asked to return three years later.

Fraser retired as Joliet's treasurer and director of management and budget in 2007.

As a Joliet firefighter, city councilman and mayor, Tom Giarrante, worked with Fraser for years.

"Bob was well-liked by all, everybody who dealt with him," Giarrante said. "He was an up-front kind of guy, and he was really good at what he did."

Tom Thanas, a former Joliet city attorney and city manager, started with the city in 1981.

"Bob saw us through the recessions of the '70s and '80s, and did an excellent job of helping us through them," Thanas said.

With Joliet's unemployment rate reaching 26 percent, Joliet was in dire straits in the early 1980s, Thanas said.

"Joliet was losing population, factories were closing and there was a lot of doom and gloom at City Hall," he said.

But Joliet "started to see things turn around in 1987 when John Mezera became city manger," Thanas said.

"John relied on Bob a lot for financial guidance and we started to see things improve here even before the casino boats opened in 1992," he said.

Brent Fraser, an operating engineer with the city, was often able to join his father for lunch during their workdays.

"I was blessed to work with him for eight years," Brent Fraser said.

Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Blackburn-Giegerich-Sonntag Funeral Home with interment at Elmhurst Cemetery. Visitation is Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m.

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