Lillian L. “Fraz” Fravell
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian
Lillian L. “Fraz” Fravell was born in the small town of Orient, IL to a coal miner and housewife. She was the sixth sibling of nine brothers and eight sisters. She enjoyed having fun with her seventeen siblings and liked growing up in a small town. Fraz especially loved school. By the time she was 11, she knew that she wanted to go to college. To get a college education, she planned to join the Navy when she was old enough. After high school she moved to Peoria, IL and began working at the Caterpillar Tractor Co. It was during her time at this company that she was given the name “Fraz.”
At the age of 20, Fraz decided to follow her dream and joined the Navy. Amazingly, eight of her brothers also joined the military. This made nine full-blooded siblings from her family, with her being the only girl, to serve. She began her basic training in Great Lakes, IL. She was trained and placed in communications to work as a cryptographer deciphering codes. Her first duty station was Washington, DC. Her next duty stations included Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Boston, MA, and Brunswick, ME. While at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was not a state yet so her assignment was considered overseas shore duty. After she left Brunswick, she was sent to Norfolk, VA for instructor school. She instructed for radioman school and also for recruit training for women. During her military career, Fraz worked during some momentous occasions. She was Chief in Charge in Washington, DC at the Communication Station during the Cuban Missile Crisis and also when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. She was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Korean War. According to her, these were all turbulent times. After 20 years of service, she retired from the military as Chief Radioman and went back home to Orient.
Fraz became employed by the state of Illinois to work with selective service. She switched jobs and began working for the Veterans Hospital in Marion, IL. She finally made the decision to fulfill her dream of a college education. She enrolled in John A. Logan Junior College. Majoring in social work, she finished her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University at the age of 49. It was during these college years that she made great friends and thoroughly enjoyed learning.
Upon graduating, she began working as a social worker in oncology with nursing home programs. Her first job was in a veteran’s outpatient clinic in Las Vegas, NV. Her next job took her to Tampa, FL to work at James A. Haley Veterans Medical Center. At the age of 54, she finally retired completely. She moved from Florida back home to Orient. She enjoyed her retired life by golfing, playing softball, and bowling. She said she had to be athletic growing up with nine brothers. She also drove from Orient to Mobile, AL to work women’s professional golf tournaments. Working with the LPGA, she kept score and drove the golfers around.
Fraz had known about the Naval Home in Gulfport from teaching naval history in recruit training. In 1992 she decided to move back down south to live at the Home. Because she enjoyed visiting and helping her fellow Residents, Fraz became the first Resident Ombudsman. After living at the Naval Home for about eight years, she decided to move back to Orient. She fixed up her grandmother’s house and lived with her pets. She spent her time doing church and family activities. After a while, she decided to move back to the Home, which had changed to the Armed Forces Retirement Home. She asked for the assignment of Resident Ombudsman again since she enjoyed it so much the first time. Fraz still serves under AFRH-G’s Ombudsman, Master Chief Wise, as the Resident Ombudsman. She’s always visiting with Residents and using her helpful temperament to aid in any way she can. Always a pleasure, Fraz is such a great Resident to have around AFRH-G!