Don Frailie’s life was so well-lived

When we came home from my in-laws on Christmas Day last year, there was a Brooks Robinson autographed baseball in a plastic case sitting on my porch.

No card and no message. Just the baseball in its plastic case.

My grandson, who was born in April 2017, is named Brooks Wyatt. His mother and father named him after Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Fame third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles.

Even though this gift didn’t have tag on it, the fingerprints were obvious to us.

We knew it was Don Frailie. That was just his style of doing things. I never found out for sure, because he’d never admit to it if asked, but I knew.

On Wednesday night around 11:30, Ashland became a sadder place because Don Frailie’s big heart stopped beating. What a sad, sad day.

Don’s passing hurts anyone who ever met this kind and caring man and many of you who never even knew him but were probably impacted. His life was always about helping others and never shining the light on himself.

I count myself incredibly blessed to have known him, to witness the light inside him that came bursting out when he saw a need, to watch him be that silent helping hand. He was the humblest man you’d ever meet.

Counting Don Frailie as a friend made you warm inside. I wish everyone could have experienced it. Maybe that’s why his death hurts so much.

In a lot of instances, he was your friend and you may never have known it. That’s how Don Frailie rolled in life, a trail of pure goodness sprinkled behind him. With his country ways, he could have easily been a character on “The Andy Griffith Show,” but there was no acting with him. He was genuine, a true friend and a giant in this town.

He was an attorney and a teacher and brilliant in both professions and even coached some of Ashland’s greatest athletes during a stint at Coles Jr. High. He was a husband and a father and he loved his late wife Karen and his daughter Mary Beth more than anything this world had to offer.

Behind them, the man adored baseball. He was a walking baseball encyclopedia. Don was Google for baseball before there was Google. He loved his Braves, Milwaukee and Atlanta, and when he was a little guy playing in the first year of Little League in Ashland, Don played first base for the Giants. He rolled up his sleeves like Ted Kluszewski, the muscular first baseman for the Reds who liked to show off his biceps.

Don was always that behind-the-scenes person who made sure things got done but never wanted any credit for it. He helped me on more than one occasion with the costs associated with our CP-1 Hall of Fame ceremony.

His wife Karen was one of the best English teachers that Ashland and Rose Hill ever witnessed. She was the epitome of perfect grammar and a beautiful individual. When she lost her life to cancer, a piece of Don went with her. He was devastated as any of us would be. He visited her grave at the Ashland Cemetery every day where he told her about what was going on in his life. He never stopped loving her with all his being.

Don immediately began a trust, the Karen Frailie Christian Education Fund, that provided teachers with the tools they needed. Each teacher at Rose Hill Christian School had $300 to spend on their class each year. And, by the way, if they needed more, all they had to do was ask.

His gracious life has impacted so many.

Two years ago, he made sure every unmarked grave in the “Baby Section” of the Ashland Cemetery had a marker. All at his expense. All because of his love.

I can only imagine his entry into heaven on Wednesday night being reunited with Karen, the love of his life, and having so many of these unnamed babies rushing to hug him. The long line of those he helped over the years who wanted to thank him probably stretched for miles on those golden streets.

When we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

A day of loss for us but what a day of victory for him.


18 thoughts on “Don Frailie’s life was so well-lived

  1. Sad day for Ashland.. Never met Don but with mutual interest in sports, baseball card collecting, the law and politics we were long time Facebook friends….Loved reading his posts…He will be missed….Prayers for his family…


  2. Mark, your words are perfect in describing Don Frailie. He and Karen were both friends and neighbors of ours for many years. They were always kind, humble people…ready to help a need. While we are truly saddened to lose him, we know that he is rejoicing with the love of his life! His passing leaves a void in our city, but also leaves a trail of kind deeds which will live on forever. Prayers for all of his family, most especially his daughter, Mary Beth, and brother, Pete. Rest well, thou good and faithful servant!


  3. Don was one of a kind. I grew up going to Rose Hill so that was the start of our relationship. I late married into his family and he became my cousin by marriage. I then took all of my Accounting Classes from him at ACC. We have weaved in and out of each others lives for years. He was one of the most kind hearted people that you would ever meet and stood ready to help you whenever needed. He will be so sadly missed by so many.


    1. Although I never knew him or spoke to him in Ashland we had many interesting chats on Facebook..Felt like I had known him forever…We shared many Ashland and Holy Family sports stories from our youth days..


  4. Other than my Dad, probably no one had a bigger impact on the direction of my life than Don Frailie. Great tribute, Mark. I will certainly save this one!


  5. This hit me Thursday night like a ton of bricks as Don was everything and much more in the above article. Don coached me in minor league baseball in 1965 on the Commanders and the next 2 years in 1966 & 1967 on the Dodgers….. Don had a way of making you feel like he might have liked you best….. but looking back, he probably made everyone else feel that way. I had the pleasure of talking to him in 2017 at the CP-1 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and it was great just as all of the other times over the years of talking to him. He always rememberd me and I wish I could have talked to him more. It will be great to talk to him again some day…. Even in this time of sadness, I am so happy for Don and his wife Karen.


  6. Don was a wonderful human being. When we adopted our son he was our attorney. When it was finalized he didn’t charge us a penny.
    Also was lucky enough to have Karen as a teacher at Putnam. She paddled me once because she had to, not because she enjoyed it. I deserved it! What a joyous reunion they must be having.
    The world is a better place because they were here.


  7. Beautiful tribute to the friend of so many, Mark! I met Don when I worked at ACC in 1980-81. He was so friendly and kind, and always the encourager. Met and worked with his brother Pete and wife Cora in 1985. Brothers- two peas in a pod. Don will surely be missed.


  8. I am privileged to have shared an intense love for baseball and the Atlanta Braves with Mr. Frailie. It was that common ground that spurred our smiles and conversation. I’m grateful for those moments and sad that there weren’t more of them. RIP, Mr. Frailie.


  9. I will always carry my memories of the time that I spent with Don. He loves God, family and friends. I will miss him dearly. For it is best to have known Don than not. Love you Don.🇺🇸


  10. Mary Beth I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad was such a kind man. He wrote my ” Will” for me and then wouldn’t accept any payment for it. I’m guessing because I’m a single mother and was putting a child thru school at Rose Hill. He’s rejoicing in heaven tonight with your mother by his side. Love you honey.


  11. Mark, as always, your words were perfect. You captured the life of an incredible person. I had the privilege of knowing Don both personally and professionally. As a bankruptcy trustee Don always had a way of making people feel great even though they were at a low point in their life. He was so respectful and caring. As a booster at Rose Hill Christian School he worked tirelessly to help the teachers and students. Other than its founder, Charles Stewart, Rose Hill has never had a better friend. I haven’t seen Don in years, but just knowing that he’s passed from earth leaves a void. Thank you for the wonderful tribute to a humble and wonderful man.


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