Skip to content
Fact
ba
.
se

Senate Floor: TRIBUTE TO DANIEL S. FRAWLEY

  • Joe Biden
    Person
Unknown

Joe Biden

Unknown
Mr. President, I do not do this very often, but today, I would like to address the Senate about a friend of mine, a neighbor from Wilmington, DE. Dan Frawley was not a native of Delaware; he was born and raised in upstate New York. But from the day he adopted the city of Wilmington as his home, Dan Frawley became one of its most devoted citizens and most enthusiastic cheerleaders. 5

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan came to Delaware in 1972, having just added an MBA from the Wharton School to his law degree; he was poised, it must have seemed to those who welcomed him, for a long, lucrative private-sector career in the legal division of the Du Pont Co. 6

Joe Biden

Unknown
In 1973, by the luck -- and it was truly Wilmington's luck -- by the luck of a random drawing, Dan Frawley became the first urban homesteader in the United States. For $1, he was given a run-down house in the west- center of a city that had been rocked by riots just 5 years before, a city that had been abandoned as a home by too many of its residents, and abandoned as a lost cause by too many of its neighbors. 7

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan Frawley lived in that same $1 house for a decade, and turned it into a national showplace, and the centerpiece of the renewed and revitalized urban neighborhood that grew around it. 8

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan never moved out of the city. 9

Joe Biden

Unknown
In the difficult early years of the debate on school desegregation, Dan Frawley served on the Wilmington board of education. He was also appointed to serve on the Wilmington Design Review Commission, a position from which he resigned to run for -- and win -- a seat on the city council. 10

Joe Biden

Unknown
Just 4 years later, in what was accurately described as an upset, and less accurately recalled by Dan as an overwhelming mandate, he won the 1984 democratic primary for mayor by a little more than 200 votes, and went on to win the general election, and to serve as Wilmington's mayor until 1993. Dan Frawley had sacrificed his private-sector career for full-time public service, at probably half the salary. 11

Joe Biden

Unknown
As mayor, Dan Frawley guided and helped stabilize the city through treacherous economic times. He started the Wilmington Partnership, raising millions of dollars in private funds to help build homes in poorer neighborhoods; he expanded business and jobs at the port of Wilmington, often traveling himself -- as truly the city's best salesman -- to promote Wilmington with potential port customers; he brought America's premier professional bicycle race, now the Tour Du Pont, to Wilmington; he led the revitalization of a long-neglected downtown area, known as the Christina Gateway, and he was instrumental in bringing a minor-league baseball team back to the city, by commiting his efforts -- when others said he was crazy to risk it -- to make sure the team would have a beautiful new stadium to play in. 12

Joe Biden

Unknown
Those are some facts about Dan Frawley's career, and they are impressive and important, but the facts could never capture the essence of Dan's life and spirit. And it is the essence of his life that we in my State have been trying to give voice to since the night of Wednesday, February 2. 13

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan was playing basketball that night, as he often did, for a Wilmington recreational league team. 14

Joe Biden

Unknown
With 30 seconds left in the game, he collapsed, the victim of an apparent heart attack. He never woke up. Daniel S. Frawley was dead at the age of 50. He is survived by his wife, Bonita, and their three children -- all still at home -- Marcus, Matthew, and Marjorie. 15

Joe Biden

Unknown
As I have shared memories of Dan Frawley with others who knew him, it has been obvious that, as impressive and as important as the tangible accomplishments of his life were, the most defining and characteristic feature of anything Dan did was how he did it. At about 6 feet 4 inches, usually well more than 200 pounds, with a bone crunching handshake, a broad smile, and a voice that, as they say, carried, Dan Frawley was a big presence wherever he went. 16

Joe Biden

Unknown
He was all Irish -- worked hard, played hard, thought it was better to sing off-key and loud than on-key and soft, fought with everything he had for what he believed, and competed like it counted all his life -- and not just in the rough sports of politics. 17

Joe Biden

Unknown
During the tour DuPont bike race, Dan would ride on the back of one of the motorcycles that followed the racers, in a great big helmet, a bright green blazer, smiling and waving as he whipped around tight curves and bumped over rough roads. 18

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan was a cofounder of the Wilmington Rugby Club, and it was not entirely unknown for him to use an elbow -- followed quickly by a smile -- while playing basketball indoors and out, probably on every court in Wilmington. He even competed at losing weight, entering a contest with some other bigger-than-average public officials in 1992. Dan won on the number of pounds dropped, but lost on body-weight percentage. He never was a percentage player; he went for home runs. 19

Joe Biden

Unknown
In his private life, Dan Frawley was devoted to his family; he believed in family, actively cherished it, in a way that some would think old-fashioned, and maybe even out of character for someone who took such joy in being a "public man." But there was no joy greater in Dan's life than his family -- his wife, for whom he had such tremendous personal respect, as well as true love; his children, who, I am convinced, were the source of his belief that dreams could come true, that anything was possible. 20

Joe Biden

Unknown
As much as Dan towered above most company, in stature and in manner, with his family, it was different; with Bonita and the children, Dan was a perfect fit; together, they made a complete and beautiful picture. 21

Joe Biden

Unknown
And just as Dan Frawley's belief in family seemed so natural, he also had an innate belief in the importance of community. He was very intelligent and more sensitive than many people realized, and he felt an obligation toward all the children he encountered. Dan would leave a men's league basketball game to go watch the kids play on the other court -- sometimes in the city's toughest neighborhoods. 22

Joe Biden

Unknown
He would coach them on skills, lecture them on rules and about getting along with each other, and inspire them with the simple, basic truth that he cared about them. It was not pretense; nothing Dan Frawley ever did was pretense. He did not work so hard, so joyfully, and devote so much energy to the city of Wilmington because he thought it looked good. 23

Joe Biden

Unknown
He did it because he cared, because he loved the city -- loved it -- with every fiber in his being, and you could not be around him for more than five minutes without realizing how sincere that devotion was. The same can be said about Dan's genuine, deep love for the people he served -- for people generally, as someone said, he even loved the people he did not like. 24

Joe Biden

Unknown
That love Dan felt for Wilmington and its people, and the energy with which he expressed it, will never be duplicated and will always be deeply missed. The city has truly lost one of its best friends, and that, above all, is how Dan Frawley will be most truly remembered -- not as one of Wilmington's accomplished former mayors, one of its greatest all-time salesman, or the guy who helped get the money to build the baseball stadium, not as a courageous public risktaker and community activist, or a guy who sacrificed a lot to devote himself to public service, or a pioneer in urban revitalization. 25

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan Frawley was all that and more, but what everything he did adds up to, what Dan was at the core -- was a man who, like a true friend, gave you all he had, gave it not only willingly but enthusiastically. 26

Joe Biden

Unknown
At Dan's memorial service, the most striking thing was that it was, truly, a gathering of friends -- not colleagues or cronies, not allies or adversaries -- but friends. A man who cares so genuinely, and who gives so much of his heart and spirit, inspires a very personal response. In the days since Dan's death, the talk in Wilmington has not been about his policies or programs, about his achievements or public contributions. 27

Joe Biden

Unknown
The remembrances have been about a friend, about a man who died too young and yet lived a full life. In retrospect, it was as if Dan had known all along that time was short, and in the end, too, it seems, whatever stories we tell and hear about Dan Frawley, that he himself had chosen his own best epitaph. 28

Joe Biden

Unknown
It is a quote from George Bernard Shaw, which Dan had hung in his office just a week before his death, and it is a very eloquent summary of how Dan lived, and a very fitting tribute to a friend we will long remember: 29

Joe Biden

Unknown
"This is the true joy of life: 30

Joe Biden

Unknown
I rejoice in life for its own sake. 34

Joe Biden

Unknown
Life is no brief candle to me. 35

Joe Biden

Unknown
Dan Frawley's torch burned bright, and burns still through his enduring spirit, and in the hearts on his family and of his many devoted, and grateful, friends. 37