He was, he liked for everyone to think, the consummate curmudgeon: gruff, cantankerous, the cynical, hard-bitten newspaperman who’d edited thousands of stories by writers good and mediocre, feeding the seemingly insatiable appetite of publications around the country.
Bob Frazer came to Farm Press from years of editing copy for the Associated Press, in an era when daily newspapers were still a vital cog in the nation’s news gathering and distribution system, before the Internet’s every-minute-of-every-day platform tolled the death knell for many papers or left them a mere shadow of what they once were.
He was a craftsman when it came to taking an article by one of our editors or contributors, cleaning up grammatical/punctuation/typographical errors, weeding out extraneous words, and rearranging sentences or paragraphs to make the story more readable.
His bible was the AP Style Book, which he had committed to memory and followed religiously. If Webster’s had something spelled or used one way and the AP book had it another way, AP ruled. With each new edition of the manual would come a purchase request from Bob, and he’d pore over the revisions, adding them to his storehouse of thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots.
However much he tried to maintain the curmudgeon pose, we soon came to appreciate his dry wit, his rapier-like comments on the inflated egos of politicians and other public personalities, and his standard ungrammatical dismissal of some particularly nonsensical directive from management: “It don’t matter none.”
Although his byline seldom appeared in these pages, he was a skilled writer. But his stock in trade was polishing and making better the works of others, and at that he excelled. Most of his 32 years with our organization was spent as managing editor of Southwest Farm Press (with editors Cal Pigg, the late Wayne Board, and Ron Smith) and Western Farm Press (with editors Dan Bryant and Harry Cline).
Bob retired in 2006 and he and Betty, whom he lovingly referred to as “my fat bride” (she wasn’t, and isn’t fat — they celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2012), moved to a nearby town, built a new home, and settled in to enjoy life. Alas, health problems intervened, and the last few years brought one challenge after another.
Bob died Dec. 15. He was family. We miss him and all his curmudgeonly ways, however pretend they may have been.