Joseph Frawley, a native of Ireland who immigrated to America, fought in the Korean War and for nearly half a century lived a life of service in Santa Rosa for his family, his church and his community, died Nov. 6 after a five-year bout with Alzheimer's disease. He was 87.
Frawley was born in Inagh, a village in County Clare in midwest Ireland. He came to the United States in 1949 to live with an uncle in San Francisco. He was drafted into the military soon after and served in the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division and fought in the brutal, month-long battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
Through his service, Frawley earned his U.S. citizenship. He returned to San Francisco and met his Dorothy Fitzgerald, who was to be his wife for 36 years. The couple began a family and later moved Pacifica.
In 1966, Frawley, a devout Roman Catholic, moved his family to Santa Rosa and quickly became part of the St. Eugene's parish community. Growing up as a Catholic in Ireland, Frawley had a strong sense of community.
"That's just the way he was raised, to give back to the community," said Frawley's son, Tom Frawley of Fremont.
Tom, Frawley's third of four children and his only son, said his father was a private man, hard working and with a great sense of humor.
For a time he owned a farrier business before he began more than two decades working as a retail clerk. He worked for several Fiesta Markets, including stores in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. He was a member of the Retail Clerks Union and retired in 1988.
Frawley dedicated many years to working with St. Eugene's St. Vincent de Paul Society, helping to feed and find shelter for the city's homeless population.
In his 70s, he often visited homeless camps on Santa Rosa Creek near St. Eugene's. His son said sometimes his father would sit and talk and listen and give them a little money.
He also worked as a Eucharist Minister at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for two decades.