David Fraser, founder of Fraser Yachts, dies at age 99

NEWPORT BEACH—Fraser Yachts announced founder David Fraser died peacefully at his Newport Beach home on Jan. 6. He was 99.

“A passionate yachtsman with a vision, a drive and a set of principles that not only built the company that today proudly continues to carry his name but equally continues to apply the values, thoroughness and ambition he was personally renowned for,” Fraser Yachts CEO Raphael Sauleau said in a released statement. “He loved the business of yachting and leaves behind him a legacy of talented sales brokers, all with the same sense of integrity and business values as his. Fair winds and following seas David….and thank you!”

Fraser was a passionate sailor from an early age. The first sailboat he ever crewed on, during high school, ANNA R HEIDRITTER, remains on Fraser’s emblem today. He told The Log in 2016 his love for boating dates back to his days working aboard the 185-foot schooner as a deckhand. The schooner carried lumber and coal from Charleston, South Carolina to ports on the Atlantic Coast.

David Fraser

Fraser also told The Log in a 2016 interview, after graduating from the Citadel in South Carolina, serving in the U.S. Navy and working aboard a trading vessel, Fraser hopped into a car and drove west – all the way to California – where he started selling boats in Wilmington before moving to Newport Beach to do the same.

He launched Fraser Yachts in 1947, expanding the business from Newport Beach to San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Florida over the 1960s. Today there are offices in San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale, England, France, Monaco, Spain, Thailand, China, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Italy and Australia. A statement from Fraser Yachts said Fraser was determined to ensure the company always felt like a family, and this team spirit remains at the heart of Fraser to this day.

Fraser’s daughter Diane, who first joined the firm in the 1980s, has remained with the company to date.

“Diane’s early rise in the company is just one example of many that exemplify David’s commitment to including and encouraging women to take key roles in yachting, at a time when that was not always the case, and specifically in the business and growth of Fraser,” Fraser Yachts said in a released statement.

Outside of work, Fraser found time to participate in sailing races. Fraser made three races to Honolulu, two Miami-to-Jamaica runs and a Trans-Atlantic trek from Bermuda to Marstrand, Sweden. His team came in first place in the Trans-Atlantic race from Bermuda to Sweden.

Fraser was a member of Newport Harbor Yacht Club for more than 65 years. His affiliations also included St Francis Yacht Club, Transpacific Yacht Club, and the American Legion. He also served on the California Yacht and Ship Broker Commission.

“We look forward to continuing to keep David’s legacy alive.,” Fraser Yachts said in a released statement.

Fraser is survived by his wife of 71 years, Eleanor; three daughters Laurie Booth (Barry) of Newport Beach, Diane Strollo (Rick) of Orcas Island and Jennie Heinke (Keith) of Newport Beach. He also leaves four grandchildren Jeannette Palisoul (Phil) of Costa Mesa, Diane Booth of Las Vegas, Hilary Elliott (Rob) of Dallas, Emily Heinke of Seattle and two great grandchildren.

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One thought on “David Fraser, founder of Fraser Yachts, dies at age 99

  • Dean West

    We were fortunate here in Southern California to call David Fraser one of our own. He was the consummate gentleman, and an icon in the yacht sales community. David stayed engaged with the brokerage community long after many his age had moved on, and it was an inspiration to many of us to see David at a boat show or a brokers event – smiling, laughing and telling stories. Oh how I hate to see stalwarts like David pass, but he leaves a wonderful legacy and he truly enjoyed a life well lived!
    Fair skies and smooth seas, David.


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