Joe Fraser came from a family steeped in the tradition of Jesus and London Rowing Club. His elder brother, Robert, rowed in the 1961 Cambridge crew which destroyed Oxford along Chiswick Eyot and then accepted demotion with Jim Gobbett into the 1962 Goldie crew. His father, Jimmy, and uncle, Arthur, both rowed at Jesus before going on to row successfully at LRC. He was also related to Derek Mays-Smith, the famous Jesus and CUBC coach, because his father’s sister, Anne, married Derek.
I rowed at Radley with Joe in possibly one of their most unsuccessful 1st 8s in 1960 to the despair of 3 notable Cambridge oarsmen fathers. Joe was also not well taught and so went to a Crammer in Godalming to get the necessary A levels to gain him a place at Jesus. Having got these he rowed in a good London Rowing Club Thames Cup 8 in 1962.
He decided to row at Jesus his first year, the year of the big freeze-up, which made the Cam and the Ouse at Ely iced up for weeks. College 1st Lent boats rowed at St Neots and CUBC rowed at Earith and then Peterborough. In a Colleges’ Regatta which replaced the Lents, Jesus won this. Jesus went on to lose to Sandhurst, the Winners, at Henley by 3 feet in the Ladies Plate.
In October 1964 Joe lost his father, mother and brother in a tragic yacht accident when a hurricane blew up on their passage back from St. Malo to their home in Jersey. I had to break this ghastly news to Joe after dining with him in Cambridge before we motored down to his uncle’s house near Stansted for further news.
Joe then trialled for the CUBC and in a tight selection won his place at 4 in the Cambridge 1964 crew which won by 61/2L. He was subsequently elected President of the CUBC by 1 vote. Sadly MV Bevan and MJ Muir-Smith, 2 and 3 in the’64 crew, were not allowed to row so Joe was the only Blue in his 1965 crew. They came up against an Oxford crew with 4 US Ivy League oarsmen on board plus other useful oarsmen. Even so and despite a fin bent during the race Joe’s crew only lost by 4L. Joe went on to win the Lowe Double-Sculls and Magdalene Pair Oars.
He attended every Henley with his many relations and friends in ROW C and enjoyed supporting Jesus, CUBC and Radley, watching from the Members’ Stand with his wife, Clare, and was a Life Member of Leander.
Joe was one of the many Frasers to get a 3rd in Estate Management and he and David Bell, Caius, were the last two to complete this course for an Ordinary Degree which is now Land Economy. Initially he went to join Savills, the Property Agents, but then joined Langtons in Lloyds. Both of these firms had strong Jesus/CUBC connections and Joe eventually left Langtons because he disagreed with the firm’s policy. He did return to another firm in Lloyds but retired early to enjoy his life with his family in their houses in Farley Hill and Seaview, where his love of sailing took over. Incidentally his dinghy’s oars were painted in Jesus colours and his own white spinnaker was adorned with a Radley Maltese Cross.
Keener on cruising than racing, Joe did a term as Hon.Steward of the Royal Cruising Club and was responsible for organising their Dinners at the Royal Thames Yacht Club.
Joe was one of the original Archetypals and attended every party they had. Bobby Lawes (B67) cruised with him and then hosted Joe and his wife, Clare, on several cruises. Bobby told me that Joe had raced in the annual Transatlantic Race with Paddy Broughton (B85,86,87) on Grandee before Paddy took Grandee down to Sydney.
Joe leaves his wife, Clare, (sister of my room mate at the Hall, Martin Jensen, Trial Cap 1963) and daughters, Annabelle and Kate, and four grandchildren.
Donations in Joe’s memory are for the RNLI, Joe’s favourite charity, c/o Spencer & Peyton, Funeral Directors, 38 Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 5DZ. Tel: 01256 323165. Email: [email protected]