Richard Fraser, world-renowned neurosurgeon, died peacefully, surrounded by his devoted family, on September 14, 2017 after a long illness. A longtime Rye resident, he was 79.
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, he earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of British Columbia. Following medical school, he was a medical resident in neurology and neurosurgery at Vancouver General Hospital, Stanford University Medical School, Columbia University Neurological Institute, where he also held an instructorship position, and The National Institutes of Health. He was Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Senior Neurosurgeon at Tufts-New England Medical Center before becoming an Attending Neurosurgeon and Professor of Neurosurgery at New York Hospital-Weill Medical College, where he practiced for twenty-eight years. Before his unexpected retirement because of illness, he became Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery.
In addition to his practice at New York Hospital, Dr. Fraser held neurosurgical positions at Memorial Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Burke Rehabilitation Center, Hospital for Special Surgery, and United Hospital Medical Center. A licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada, an American board-certified neurosurgeon, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a member of twenty-two scientific and medical societies, Dr. Fraser published over fifty influential and frequently cited research papers.
Dr. Fraser did pioneering research in cerebral and micro vascular surgery, and developed new microsurgical techniques for treating genetic brain disorders and conditions once thought inoperable.
In 1986, he received an honorary degree at Drew University for “his willingness to take on complicated cases on short notice, to provide nurturing counsel under stress, to use to the fullest his skill of hand and eye and mind, and to champion the finest traditions of the medical professions [to bring] comfort, healing, and prolonged life to hundreds of children and adults.”
In addition to his passion for practicing medicine, he was an avid history buff. His article, “How Did Lincoln Die?” published in the February-March 1995 edition of American Heritage, provided a fresh and hotly debated perspective on Lincoln’s death.
He was also an ardent and skilled tennis and squash player, skier, sailor, and pilot.
“Dick was happiest and most alive when he could put his medical genius, his healing gifts, and his compassionate heart to work,” said his wife, Anne Fraser. “Always calm, strong, and eager to serve in a crisis, he aided and consoled untold numbers of people in their distress. Well-known for making house calls at a moment’s notice to anyone who called out to him and for personally driving his patients home from the hospital after his surgical wonders, Dick was cherished by those whom he served. When complimented for his brilliance and artistry as a surgeon, Dick would always respond, ‘I’m just an instrument,’ and, indeed, he truly was.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his four daughters, Cynthia (Rob) Attwell, Heather (James) Dungate), Eliza (Ned) Swain, and Emily Fraser; and his two grandsons, Alexander and Carter Dungate.
A funeral service will be held at Christ’s Church Rye on Saturday, September 23 at 11 a.m. Donations in his memory may be made to Christ’s Church Outreach, 2 Rectory Street, Rye, NY 10580.