While working as an assistant professor at Loretto Heights College in 1977, Virginia Fraser was inspired by a class project to begin a new career and life mission as a national champion of the rights of the elderly. As a longtime advocate for women’s rights, this University of Denver graduate quickly recognized that women comprise the majority of people living in and working at elder care facilities and that those women have the fewest resources and the least power. Her unique skills helped empower women of all ages and economic situations to understand their rights and demand dignity and equal treatment.
Her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease led to her involvement in issues of dementia in the elderly. She was one of the founding members of the Network for Special Elders, which eventually became the Alzheimer’s Association. As Colorado’s Long-term Care Ombudsman for 21 years, Fraser advocated for the elderly in nursing homes and other care facilities and established the program that other states have adopted as a model.
In the early 1950s Ms. Fraser worked with the American Friends Service Committee to help integrate playgrounds in Washington, DC. In the 1960s she became a founding member of the Littleton Council on Human Relations, served on the Arapahoe Community College Council, and helped found the Metro Denver Fair Housing Center.