David Fraley was a trained archaeologist, successful businessman, and a well-respected member of the Cortez, Colorado, community.
But for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, David Fraley was, above all else, our friend.
Fraley died unexpectedly on August 31 at the age of 63. At the time of his death, Fraley was vice chairman of the Center’s Board of Trustees, and was set to become Board chair in October.
Fraley joined the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Board of Trustees in 2011, yet had a much longer history of interaction and friendships at Crow Canyon. He shared a passion and expertise for archaeology and the diverse multicultural history of the west with his Crow Canyon colleagues, having earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from CU-Boulder and worked as an archaeologist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Montana, from 1979 to 1987.
He also worked at Mesa Verde National Park as an interpreter in 1975, 1976 and 1978.
“I have always been interested in archaeology,” said Fraley when he joined the Board of Trustees in 2011. “Crow Canyon has not only done a great job of performing archaeology, but it also makes its work relevant to our community and the modern world through its educational programs. And Crow Canyon is an important institution for the maintenance of economic diversity in Cortez and the county. I hope as a local person, I can help the board and staff continue to make this all happen.”
“David started visiting Crow Canyon’s excavations long before he joined the Board, and it was his interest in our mission that led him to eventually join the Board,” says Mark Varien, Ph.D., executive vice president of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon. “David was generous by nature and we were lucky that service to his community included Crow Canyon."
“David was straightforward and respectful in his dealings with everyone. He was extremely well-read. He had common sense, but was also highly intellectual and that allowed him to understand and appreciate the complexities of the world,” says Varien. “David not only loved the human past, he believed understanding the past was critical for creating a better future for humanity.”
Varien says that Fraley’s experience as both a professional archaeologist who had worked for the BLM as well as his understanding of the energy industry and how this relates to the management of public lands made him uniquely qualified to help support Crow Canyon’s mission.
“David's keen intellect, his passion and support for Crow Canyon’s mission, his skills as a successful businessman, and his ability to interact with everyone from all walks of life were invaluable assets to Crow Canyon,” says Varien.
Current Crow Canyon Board of Trustees chair Bruce Milne remembers Fraley as someone who never shied away from hard work.
"Dave was a true selfless servant willing to roll up his sleeves and do whatever needed to be done. He understood the importance of the work and our fiduciary responsibilities as trustees, and he worked tirelessly to make sure we were doing everything possible to support our staff,” says Milne. “He always approached every opportunity from the perspective of how we can help provide our staff with the resources they needed to get the job done.”
“He was one of those people who inspired me to want to be at my best in performing my duties. It was a real honor to know him and serve alongside him. His presence will be missed but I know his spirit will live on at Crow Canyon and will be felt by all those who have had the privilege to know him and work with him,” says Milne.
Fellow Crow Canyon Trustee and Washington State University Professor Emeritus of Archaeology Bill Lipe echoes the sentiment of others at the center.
“David was deeply respected for his ongoing work as a board member and for his commitment to the organization’s mission and to ensuring the welfare of its employees,” says Lipe. “As a board member, he relied on his experience in archaeology and in business, as well as his innate common sense, to help guide Crow Canyon's growth and success. We had looked forward to his quiet but effective application of these qualities as the board chairman.”
Crow Canyon president and CEO Liz Perry, Ph.D., says that Fraley was deeply admired and respected by her and all of Crow Canyon’s employees.
"David was a true friend and professional partner,” says Perry. “He and I have been working together very closely since I was selected as Crow Canyon’s new president nearly a year ago. His enthusiasm and ideas for the future of our organization were contagious – he made us feel hopeful and proud to have him as our leader on the board of trustees.”
Perry says that Fraley was a strong advocate for Crow Canyon to focus on building solid relationships among Native American partners and within the Cortez community.
“David strongly believed in Crow Canyon’s motto that ‘everybody's history matters’ and encouraged us not to be afraid to stretch our minds beyond the familiar. He believed there was value in many ways of being. David's history—the many stories that make up his life and touched ours—matters to us. His guidance will continue to make us stronger, as individuals and as an organization with a mission to fulfill in the world,” says Perry.