Fraver an auto mechanic who loved the outdoors

November 13, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Although he reached the century mark in September, J. Clark Fraver never spoke of his age in years.

Instead, the longtime owner/operator of Fraver's Garage in Smithsburg just told people he "had a lot of miles on him."

Fraver died Nov. 1 at the age of 100.

Nieces Louise Conway-Harrell and Margaret Fraver Cavanaugh said they have fond memories of their Uncle Clark from when they were growing up.

"Uncle Clark and his wife never had any children, but over the years, they had lots of dogs," Margaret said as she and Louise reminisced on a crisp fall day at Louise's house near Smithsburg. "I remember he named many of them Mickey."


When he wasn't working at his business, Clark spent as much time as he could in the outdoors. A member of the Izaak Walton League, Clark never got into hunting animals; he just enjoyed being outdoors.

He preferred watching and feeding animals and birds to hunting them, Margaret said. Most of his hunting was limited to mushrooms.

Louise said Uncle Clark's reputation as a top auto mechanic in Smithsburg was legendary.

"He got an early out during World War II," Louise said. "We heard that his superiors in the military commented that he must have really been needed in his town."

Apparently, the people of Smithsburg tried to get up a petition to keep Clark - who was 35 at the onset of the war - from having to go into the Army at all. But Clark said if others had to go, he would go, too, according to family members.

After he gave up the garage in 1966, Clark worked in construction for a time. One job he had was installing the tennis courts at Camp David, the presidential retreat near Thurmont, Md.

Clark later did lawnmower repair and woodworking from his home.

"And he would help our aunt make wreaths or they would do woodworking projects together," Louise said.

The old Fraver's Garage is now Harshman's Automotive at 36 E. Water St.

When Margaret and Louise were younger and lived on their family farm, they would go to visit their Uncle Clark and listen to his stories about growing up.

"He talked about the flu epidemic of 1918 and how his mother made him wear a necklace of asafetida," Margaret said, noting that asafetida is a foul-smelling herb believed to ward off diseases in those days.

Clark and his wife lived above the garage in Smithsburg for many years. He later built a house in the 1950s for himself and his wife. When his wife died eight years ago, Clark stayed in his home until the end, tended by devoted caregivers.

His mind still quite clear, Clark looked forward to reading the newspaper every day and enjoyed watching nature from his window.

"He never spoke ill of anyone," Margaret said. In fact, she said, one of his favorite expressions was quoting Will Rogers' declaration that he never met a man he didn't like.

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