Part of the community

Opie Frazier grew up on the road that has his name
Aug. 09, 2014 @ 05:42 PM

EPSOM — L. Opie Frazier Jr. has the distinction of being born in a house on a road that bears his name — or, rather, bears his father’s name.

The Frazier homestead stands on Opie Frazier Road in the Epsom community, just inside Franklin County.

“The road actually wasn’t named until after my father died,” Frazier said. “Up to then, it had a number.”

Frazier grew up there and returned there after he graduated from Wake Forest College in 1953.

It was a winding career path that led him from farming to Frazco, the insurance and real estate company he owns in Henderson. He left farming to sell insurance and, later, real estate. He bought property in Henderson and eventually moved there.

Once he settled in Henderson, Frazier became involved in the community, joining the Jaycees and later the Henderson Kiwanis Club. He also served on the Henderson City Council.

“My only other effort in politics was when I ran against Chick Young when he was first elected mayor,” Frazier said.

He has been affiliated with Vance-Granville Community College since its inception. Chartered as Vance County Technical School in 1969, the college was placed under the auspices of a board of trustees in 1971. Gov. Robert Scott appointed Frazier to the board that year. He is now the longest-serving member of the board. He served until 1996 and returned in 2002 as a Vance County Board of Education appointee. Frazier was recently sworn in for another four-year term.

Donald Seifert, the current board chairman, said Frazier’s experience is a credit to the board.

“When I came on the Vance-Granville board, I took Opie’s place,” he said. “They had a rule if a spouse was on the board, a person couldn’t teach there. After his wife retired, he came back on the board.”

Frazier served as chairman of the board for nine years and currently chairs the investment committee. He also serves on the college’s endowment board.

As for the Frazier homestead, it is still in the family. Frazier’s sister, Jacqueline “Jackie” Hoyle, and her husband, Wilson Hoyle, own it.

Frazier’s grandfather, Robert Ira Frazier, built the house in the 1880s. Additions were built onto it in 1917 and 1948. Outbuildings include a stable, smoke house, corncrib, and a strip room for preparing tobacco for market.

Opie Frazier Sr. worked the farm after Robert Frazier died in 1931, holding it together during the Great Depression.

“He eventually paid off all the indebtedness,” Frazier said.

The major crops were tobacco and cotton.

“In the last few years, we raised more cotton than tobacco,” Frazier said.

A drive through the farm this year shows a soybean crop, which Frazier said alternates with tobacco.

The Hoyles were instrumental in renovating the home place.

“We use the house for family events,” Jackie said. “We always try to have it for the Fourth of July, Christmas and Easter.”

Frazier has made his mark in the community. Back in 1969, he was a member of the original Vance County United Way board. He is active with the Vance County Democratic Party.

A long-time member of the Henderson Kiwanis Club, he twice served as president and is currently a director.

“Opie is definitely a very responsible pillar of the club and has been ever since he has been in,” said Bill Cox, who is approaching his 51st anniversary with the club. “He helped with our azalea sales and fish fries and has brought in a number of new members.”

Frazier is one of four siblings. In addition to Jackie Hoyle, there is Harold, who is married to the former Jane Renn, and Martha, now deceased, who was married to Lebert Howes.

Frazier and his wife, Katherine, have three children. Gary is in business with his father. Their daughters, Pamela Thompson and Katherine Scott, live in Burlington.

Seifert, who has been associated with Frazier in the Kiwanis Club and the local Salvation Army advisory board as well as on the Vance-Granville board of trustees, said, “He is a fine Christian gentleman, dedicated to his family, his community, his county and his faith. Born and raised in Franklin County, living and working in Vance County, he knows almost everyone in the two-county area. He is friendly and generous, always ready to help. I can’t say enough good things about Opie.”

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.