Obituary — Charles Frederic Fraker Jr.


Charles Frederic Fraker Jr., professor emeritus of romance languages and literature, died Nov. 23 at Glacier Hills in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Carlos was the only child of Charles F. Fraker Sr. of Connecticut and Selva Larramendi of Puerto Rico, born on Feb. 2, 1923, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Charles Frederic Fraker Jr.
Charles Frederic Fraker Jr.

He was the beloved husband of Doris Cross Fraker, who died three years ago after a wonderful marriage of 56 years.

Carlos was a consummate student, musician and educator. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1945 and his Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University in 1946. He completed his master’s degree at Middlebury Spanish School in 1953 and his Ph.D. in Spanish at Harvard University in 1963.

Carlos taught at the University of Massachusetts, Harvard and Wesleyan University before joining the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in 1965. He was promoted to associate professor in 1968 and professor in 1977, and served in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature as a teacher and scholar.

He was a devoted mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students and maintained relationships with many throughout his life. He was an enthusiastic and committed teacher who took pleasure in introducing them to the intricacies of medieval Spanish literature. Carlos is the namesake of the biennial Charles F. Fraker Conference that was organized in his honor by doctoral students in the department.

Though Carlos had been legally blind all of his life, that never stopped him from enjoying his great loves of music and reading. Before specializing in literature, he studied music at the Eastman School of Music and at Yale with Ralph Kirkpatrick, one of America’s foremost harpsichordists.

He and Doris loved their music group that met every Friday night for 16 years, spending the evening playing music before enjoying a nice meal and conversation. He particularly loved playing baroque music on his handmade harpsichord or ancient upright in his home. Carlos expressed his passion for music to the very end, playing Bach and Handel for his fellow residents at his retirement community.

Carlos loved his bride, and watching them together was like watching two chambers of a beautiful heart beat together in rhythm. He always communicated thoughtful and compassionate interest in anything and everything that was of importance to the student or colleague, neighbor or friend who was blessed to be before him. He will be greatly missed.

Carlos leaves his cousins, Karen Mills (Dave), Matthew Mills, Madelyn Mills and Chelsea Troeger from Indiana, and Betty Ann Fusco and Dick Lyman from Connecticut. The family would like to especially thank caregiver Yolanda Casillas and her husband, Juan Gonzalez, as well as the extraordinary staffs of Huron Woods, Glacier Hills and Arbor Hospice for their tender care of Carlos in the last years of his life. A virtual celebration of his life took place on Zoom on Dec. 6. Burial will be at a later date in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut.

Submitted by Muehlig Funeral Chapel



  1. Jamile Lawand
    on December 9, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    Professor Fraker has had (and always will!) a lasting influence on his students and their families. Both Carlos and Doris opened their home and hearts to us in so many ways, offering inspiring intellectual conversations, welcoming gatherings with good food and interesting people, a solid grounding in the greatness of humility and the importance of intelligent discourse of both the rare and every-day, and engendering in quite a few a sincere respect for good, old New England frugality and hospitality. Their thoughtfulness extended to students’ families as well, and my son has received a wealth of first-hand experience in what it is to be a kind, good-to-the-core person from his interactions with Doris and Carlos, who treated him so well since birth. Doris, and now Carlos, will both be missed greatly, but their memory and legacy live on in those of us who had the benefit and privilege of their wisdom, care, and love. What a memorable experience and education!

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