John James Fraiser

August 10, 1925 ~ July 4, 2024

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John James Fraiser, Jr. passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 4, 2024 at his home in Starkville, Mississippi.

Visitation will take place at First United Methodist Church in Starkville on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am with the funeral to follow at 11:00 am. Rev. Jim Orman will officiate. A burial will take place immediately following the funeral in the Oddfellows Cemetery. Welch Funeral Home in Starkville has been entrusted with the arrangements.

John was born on August 10, 1925 in Sunnyside, Leflore County, Mississippi to John J. Fraiser, Sr. and Evelyn Wells Fraiser. He attended and graduated as class president of the Minter City school session, and thereafter enrolled at Mississippi State College, now Mississippi State University, as a sixteen-year-old freshman in the spring of 1942. He pledged and became a member of the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity.

In July 1943, he volunteered for service in the United States Army Air Corps where he was assigned to aerial gunnery school in Laredo, Texas. He then served as a top turret armorer gunner on a B-24 bomber of the 15 th Air Force where he completed missions over Germany, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Northern Italy. Obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant, he was awarded the Air Medal with clusters for his service in five battle zones. He returned to the United States in the spring of 1945, was honorably discharged in October 1945, entered the University of Mississippi in February 1946 and graduated in 1948 with his Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctorate. In law school, he was a member of Phi Alpha Delta, national honorary scholastic legal fraternity.

John returned to the Mississippi Delta and began his legal practice in Greenwood, Mississippi as an associate of Hon. Means Johnston. He successfully practiced law in Greenwood as the Senior Partner of the Fraiser & Burgoon Law Firm until 1989. He served as President of the local bar association and was an active member of the Mississippi Bar Association.

In addition to his law practice, John engaged in many community service activities. He was chairman of the Leflore District of Boy Scouts of America, Director of Leflore County Salvation Army, Leflore County Chairman of the March of Dimes, Vice President of the Greenwood Junior Chamber of Commerce, President of the Greenwood Kiwanis Club, and Chairman of Mississippi School for Cerebral Palsy. As a result of his civic service, John was presented the Distinguished Service Award as the most outstanding young man of Greenwood for 1955.

In 1975, John was elected to the office of State Senator of his district, where he served as Senate Chairman of Education, Vice Chairman of Judiciary, Chairman of Universities and Colleges and was a member of the Senate Appropriations Committees. He was the Senate author of the 16 th Section Land Act, co-author of the Math and Science Program Act at Mississippi University for Women, draft assistant for establishing the Education Reform Act, and a staunch supporter of the first funding for the Veterinary School and co-author for the establishment of the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. He retired from the Senate office after eight years of service.

In 1989, he accepted one of the newly created Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Mississippi positions which worked to ease a backlog of cases in the Mississippi Supreme Court. In 1994, the Mississippi Court of Appeals was established, and in 1995, he was elected as a judge for the newly formed appellate court and was selected to serve as the first Chief Judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals where he and the other appellate judges helped to drastically reduce the time that it took for cases to work through the appellate system – going from 1031 days to 220 days. He then tendered his resignation from the court, retired and returned to Greenwood.

In 2000, he and his beloved wife, Jennie, moved to Starkville full time where they became avid participants in all things Mississippi State University: sports, academics and public programs hosted by the University. Together they attended many memorable moments of MSU life, especially trips to the Collegiate Baseball World Series where they witnessed Mississippi State win the College World Series. John was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Public Service by Mississippi State in May 2020. He was an active member of the Starkville Rotary Club.

He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and served on the Board of Trustees of the Minter City Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church of Greenwood, and the North Greenwood United Methodist Church. Since moving to Starkville, he and Jennie have been members of First United Methodist Church where he was a member of the Savage Sunday School.

He is predeceased by his parents as well as his two sisters and brothers-in-law, Juanita and Bobby Baker and Marguerite and Robert Montgomery, a granddaughter, Lucille Fraiser, and son-in-law, Thelton Bryant. He is survived by his son, John J. Fraiser, III, his daughter, Martha Fraiser Bryant, stepson, James L. (Jim) Whitehead, IV and stepdaughter Emilie Whitehead Odom (Mike). He is also survived by grandchildren Mary Adelyn Fraiser, Paul Fraiser, Jenn Odom and Asher Odom (Sarah).

Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Starkville or the charity of your choosing.

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