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The Lasting Legacy of Jack “Swede” Frauson

There are not many people in the park and recreation profession in North Carolina and the U.S. who haven’t been affected by the work of Jack “Swede” Frauson.

Frauson helped establish more than 25 parks and recreation departments in NC and nurtured and provided consulting services for most of the departments across the entire state. Among the many rewards he received during his lifetime include: Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from Governors Martin and Hunt; North Carolina Recreation and Park Society Fellow Award, US Department of the Interior Highest Outdoor Recreation Award, Professional Excellence Award from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the North Carolina State University Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, Jack served for many years on the Board of Trustees for the NRPA.

From the basketball court to the recreation hall of fame

Swede came to North Carolina on a basketball scholarship to Wake Forest but ultimately transferred to Western Carolina University where he went on to become a “Little All American” basketball player. Upon completing his degree he taught and coached in Bryson City, and tried his hand at a number of other careers that led him to becoming a recreation consultant for the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. In that capacity he assisted 30 communities across the state in creating new park and recreation departments, assisted in the development of hundreds of new park and recreation areas, and helped organize over 50 park and recreation citizen advisory boards.

Swede is a member of the North Carolina Recreation and Park Society Hall of Fame and received that organizations highest honor, the Distinguished Fellow Award. He was awarded the US Department of Interior’s Highest Outdoor Recreation Award and served nine years on the Board of Trustees of the National Recreation and Park Association. Swede developed the North Carolina Citizen Board Member Conference in 1979, which has been emulated by many other states across the country. Each year an award is presented at the conference in Swede’s name to a park and recreation practitioner for outstanding professional service.

Upon retirement, Swede and his wife Joy moved from hurricane-prone Wilmington to Raleigh and in 1999 he was invited to serve as a “volunteer” development officer for the department of parks, recreation and tourism management. Through his diligent service, and because of his warm and friendly personality, Swede experienced successes beyond anyone’s expectations. After only five years in the position, Swede raised contributions, or pledges through deferred gifts, of over $2 million, primarily for scholarships to attract outstanding students to pursue professional careers related to parks and recreation, tourism, golf management, and sports.

Scholarships to attract students to pursue careers in parks and recreation

Considered by all to be selfless, kind and humble, Frauson’s efforts on behalf of the PRTM department have made the difference in the lives of many fortunate scholarship recipients and his motivation was simply to help young deserving future professionals. His service to the department of parks, recreation and tourism management was nothing less than profound as he created and did fundraising for scholarships to attract outstanding students to pursue professional careers parks and recreation. These include:

Service to North Carolina State University

For eight years, Frauson volunteered and traveled North Carolina raising over $2 million to support undergraduate scholarships in the NC State Natural Resources Foundation, Inc.  He could be at the Cherokee Reservation or at the Carolina coast, but he was always thinking about NC State and student scholarships. Frauson developed the Legends in Giving Program and established a scholarship in honor of his dear friend and former department head for the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department, Phil Rea. In addition, he endowed a undergraduate scholarship in his name and contributed in the establishment of a second scholarship that carries his name.  A member of the Pullen Society, Frauson planned a gift to endow the “Jack “Swede” Frauson Academic Sports Management Scholarship” and a distinguished speaker series. He also created an Annual Scholarship donor to support it.

Professional accomplishments

  • Member, American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA)
  • Board of Trustees, National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Regional Director (1977)
  • Liaison for Citizen-Board Member Branch
  • National Speakers Bureau for training Park/Recreation Citizen-Board Members
  • NC Recreation and Park Society, President (1988)
  • Developed first state-wide Special State Forum for Citizen-Board Members
  • Headed up first Regional Office of the North Carolina Recreation Commission (1967)
  • First Regional Park/Recreation Consultant of Wilmington Regional Office (1978)
  • Regional Park/Recreation Supervisor for Eastern North Carolina (1983)
  • Past Trustee, North Carolina Recreator’s Foundation
  • Past Chairman, University North Carolina-Wilmington Park and Recreation Management Curriculum Advisory Board

Service to community and society at large

  • US Department of Interior’s Highest Outdoor Recreation Award (1976)
  • Hall of Fame Member and Fellow Award from North Carolina Recreation and Park Society (1982)
  • Outstanding Service to the Department and State of North Carolina from the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development (1983)
  • H.D. Meyer Professional Award from NRPA (1997)
  • NRPA Citizen Board Member Professional Award