Frank Raphael Fryer, Sr. was born on April 30, 1933, in Gonzales, Texas (Lone Oak Community). He was one of eight children born to Bessie Hopkins Fryer and Brack Fryer, Sr. He confessed to Christ at an early age and was a member of Lone Oak Methodist Church, later transitioning to Henson Chapel United Methodist Church. He learned early the value of Christianity, family, education and hard work.
Frank graduated from Edwards High School in the Class of 1951. He attended Prairie View A&M University (interrupted by mandatory Military Service). Frank completed his education at Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson) with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education. In addition, he completed his Certification in Special Education at Prairie View A&M University. Frank was a Veteran of the Korean War Conflict, where he served with distinction and was honorably discharged as Corporal in the U. S. Army.
Frank was united in holy matrimony to his high school sweetheart, Florence Naomi Mathis, for 67 years. Into this union four children were born: Janice, Bessie, Frank Jr., and Wanda.
Frank was first employed at Edwards High School as a Coach and teacher for several years. Other educational leadership employment as a Head Football Coach and teacher included high schools in Hearn and Rosebud, Texas. Coach Fryer was employed by Gonzales Independent School District for 28 years and is fondly remembered as a motivational leader for the Papooses (future Apaches) in all sports. He is known for establishing the moniker, “Papoose Pride.” Frank established the first black Boy Scout Troop in Gonzales that received numerous awards at State-level Jamborees.
Growing up in the Lone Oak Community the family raised turkeys and livestock. He, his brother Winston, and later Lacy assisted their Father Brack at his employer the Texas A&M Experiment Station in Gonzales County. Frank was an avid sportsman making sure to update his license for whatever was in season. His favorite coon dogs were Jet, Astro and Key Largo. In addition, he introduced later generations to hunting, fishing, and camping. Frank greatly enjoyed playing dominoes, even using them as an educational tool to teach students to count and multiply.
Known for his physical strength, one of his grandmothers nicknamed him Sampson. However, Frank was also known for his compassionate, gentle soul, and loyal friendship. We recall his support of neighboring senior citizens who were basically living off the land, without electricity, plumbing, and transportation by giving them rides into town on Saturdays to shop at the market, never asking for anything in return. His giving nature also led him to carry them plates from Fryer Family holiday celebrations.
His organizational affiliations were the Masonic Lodge, founding member of the Gonzales County Water Board, Old Timers Club, and the Gonzales County Teachers Retirement Association. Various offices held at Henson Chapel were: Choir President, Administrative Council Chair, SPRC (Staff Pastor Relations Committee) President, and United Methodist Men President.
His warm and jovial personality made kids gravitate to him to learn his secret handshake. He loved working in the yard. His attention to detail resulted in him receiving the city of Gonzales, Yard of the Month.
His character was the epitome of the type of men we need in our world today. We thank Jesus for sharing him with our family and community. He will be missed!
Frank went home to be with the Lord on July 28, 2023 at the age of 90. He was preceded in death by his wife (Florence); daughter (Janice); parents (Bessie and Brack); sister (Joycesteen); brothers (Brack Jr., James Elmo, and Lacy); sisters-in law (Clara Fryer, Franner (Sugar) Brasfield, Carolyn Fryer, Dorothy Mathis, Lawanda Mathis, Bessie Randle, Josie Stevens, Reene Mathis, and Gracie Mathis; brothers-in law (Joseph Ruffin, Floyd Lott, Walter Mathis, Ross Mathis, Edward (Son) Mathis, Elias (Koochie) Mathis, and Topsy (Bubba) Mathis.
He leaves to cherish his memory: son – Frank, Jr.; Daughters – Bessie Naomi and Wanda Denise; grandchildren – Jon Carter, Dakota Ronstandt, Aukievah (KiKi) Fryer; Sisters – Cloteal Lott and Bobbie Courett; brother Lawrence Winston Fryer, Sr.; sisters-in-law Willie Mae Dyer and Magalene Mathis; brothers-in-law William Brasfield, Sr. and Manzola Courett; Goddaughter Gervaise Ford-Wilson, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.