No surprise to anyone who has followed University of Louisville football for any length of time that Owsley B. Frazier would be among the people attending the press conference in December 2010 when Charlie Strong was introduced as head football coach.
No surprise either that Frazier would be the first person Tom Jurich wanted Charlie Strong to meet. Frazier had always supported the football program, making major donations for the original construction of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the recent expansion.
Frazier attended games with his good friend Bill Stone, the owner of Louisville Plate Glass and former University trustee and Athletic Association board member. They were also members of an expansion committee in the seventies when the old Fairgrounds Stadium was converted from baseball for football.
“He was passionate about UofL football,” said Stone. “We were going to games when there were only 6,000 or 7,000 people in the stands. The UofL football schedule was his fall schedule. Everything else had to be rearranged so he could attend the games.
Charlie Strong would be one of the few people to visit with Frazier this week before his death.
Frazier probably would have passed on the upcoming Princess Diana extravaganza at the Frazier History Museum because of a scheduling conflict with a Louisville football game. He was known to have snubbed the wedding of a family member for the same reason. “Owsley didn’t let anything interfere with his football,” said Stone.
He also attended many games on the road with Stone over the years. “The last game he was able to travel to was the Orange Bowl,” said Stone. “He was tremendously excited about the future of the program under Charlie Strong.”
Strong would be one of the few people to visit with Frazier this week before his death. “Owsley was looking forward to attending the game against the University of Kentucky this season because he believed 2012 was going to be a great season,” said Stone. “Charlie thanked him again for his support again. Owsley wanted to know how the team was doing and Charlie reviewed the players and positions for him. Owsley was excited.
“He loved football more than anything. Owsley was able to get out to see one practice this summer. I think if Charlie Strong had scheduled a midnight practice, Owsley would have been there.”
Stone said Frazier was suffering from a number of health concerns. “He had vascular problems, arthritis problems, circulation problems and lots of other stuff over the last couple of years.”
But that didn’t affect Frazier’s decision in December to donate $25 million to the University. “He would have done that even if he were healthy as a horse or had the physique of an Olympic athlete He expected to be around for a while,” he added. “But he also knew he was getting older and he wanted to give the money while he was still alive.”
So appropriate that the visitation Tuesday for Owsley Frazier will be at the Brown & Williamson Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Owsley Frazier, wearing his U of L baseball cap, with his close friend Bill Stone. They attended home games together and, when Frazier was healthy, often made road trips for away games.