LaVaughn “Von” Hodges Fraser, age 76, passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville. He was born in Doerun, Ga., on Feb. 22, 1938.
Von was the eighth child born to Wallace and Sallie (Hodges) Fraser. He was raised in a large family in a small, rural town with a strong work ethic. At age 12 he was a telephone switchboard operator and worked a paper route. On summer breaks he picked cotton, cropped tobacco and stacked peanuts while completing his high school education. When questioned about stacking peanuts he replied, “Anyone who grew up in rural Georgia in the 1950s can tell you what that means!” He inherited his love of conversing with others from his mother. With her nine children gathered around the dinner table on Sundays, she enjoyed sharing stories of growing up in rural Georgia. When questions why he talks fast, Von replied, he had to talk fast to get a word in edgewise with 11people at one table.
After a tour of duty in the United States Army as a Non-Commission Officer, Von attended the University of Florida where he earned his BSBA in Accounting in 1969. In 1992, he received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the University of North Florida. Von was hired in 1977 by the Alachua County Clerk of Court as a Supervisor of Finance and Accounting. He was hired in 1981 by the Alachua County Tax Collector’s Office where he held the position of Assistant Tax Collector until 2000 when he was elected Tax Collector. During his tenure as a public servant, Von used his inherited talent for conversation from his beloved mother to reach out to thousands of people in all walks of life to help them with tax issues or personal concerns. He often said “no tax payer’s concern is too small or too large; they deserve my undivided attention.”
Von’s extraordinary commitment to service was evidenced by the many positions of leadership he held both locally and statewide. His involvement included but was not limited to: Florida Tax Collector’s Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, Korean War Veterans Association, American Legion, Military Support Group, Florida Credit Union, Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association, Cotton Club Museum and cultural Center, League of Women Voters, African American Accountability Alliance, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, NAACP, PTA, A.L., Mebane Alumni Association, Inc., Arts Council of Elementary Schools, and the Gainesville Lion’s Club. Most notably, among all honors, awards and accolades, Von was elected and ordained Honorary Deacon at two local churches, Third Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers: Warren Fraser, Wendell Fraser, Wallace Fraser, and Arthur DeLacey Fraser. Survivors are: sisters: Sadie King of Gainesville, Evelyn Chesser of Dinsmore, Mary O. Hunt (Raymond) of Starke, Joy Edmunds (Glen) of Albany, Ga., sister-in-laws: Nell Fraser of Dublin, Ga., and Lucille Fraser of Valdosta, Ga., numerous nieces and nephews.
The family will received friends at Jones-Gallagher Funeral Home in Starke on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There was an additional viewing on Sunday, April 27 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Ave., Gainesville, with funeral services beginning at 3 p.m. Interment followed services in Rock Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, County Road 231, in Brooker with Pastor Roswell Henderson and Pastor Jim Sandlin officiating. A reception followed the graveside service at Rock Primitive Baptist Church Fellowship Hall for family and friends. Arrangements by Jones-Gallagher Funeral Home of Starke. On-line condolences may be left at www.jonesgallagherfh.com.