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University News

Carolina pioneer Ralph K. Frasier passes away at 85

Frasier, along with his brother LeRoy and John Lewis Brandon, integrated Carolina in 1955.

Leroy Frasier, John Lewis Brandon and Ralph Frasier standing and posing on the steps of South Building.
From left to right: Leroy Frasier, John Lewis Brandon and Ralph Frasier.

Ralph K. Frasier, one of the first African American undergraduates to attend the University, died May 8. He was 85.

Frasier, his brother LeRoy and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate ۰ͼ-Chapel Hill in 1955, challenging racial segregation in the state.

While all three men earned bachelor’s degrees from other universities, they paved the way for generations of future Tar Heels. Frasier was one of the honorees for the University’s “noteworthy firsts” scholarships, established by then-Chancellor Carol L. Folt in 2016.

“The Carolina community is deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Ralph Frasier,” Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts said. “As the final living member of the first group of Black undergraduate students to desegregate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Frasier was considered a civil rights pioneer at Carolina. His commitment to academic achievement left an indelible mark on our institution.”

Frasier served in the U.S. Army and graduated from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and a Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude. He worked in banking for more than 30 years, retiring in 1998 as general counsel for Huntington Bancshares Inc. in Columbus, Ohio.