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A farewell, and a thank you

For nearly a decade now, The Daily Record has been fortunate enough to feature a weekly column from C. Fraser Smith on our opinion pages. Those columns were always thoughtful, often prescient and invariably infused with a passion for democracy, for making sure the actions of our political and civic leaders squared with their obligation to serve all Marylanders.

Fraser is ending his regular appearance in our pages with today’s column. His voice will be much missed.

Many of his devoted readers acquired their taste for Fraser’s work well before he joined us. As a longtime political writer and reporter for The Sun, he earned a well-deserved reputation for fairness, empathy and for doggedly digging into places some thought were nobody’s business but which Fraser knew, quite well, were most certainly the public’s business. His landmark series on Baltimore’s “shadow government” in 1980 remains one of the finest examples of what dedicated and vigorous reporting can contribute to the understanding of how our institutions truly work.

Fraser previously learned his craft at newspapers in New Jersey and Rhode Island. No one makes the case for newspapers’ singular role in American life more ably and convincingly.

Fraser is a Maryland journalism icon. Not only for the breadth and depth of his newspaper work but for the books he’s written in what passes as his spare time. His insightful biography of William Donald Schaefer; his look at Maryland’s tortured history of segregation; and his examination of the impact of the drug overdose death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias all addressed subjects that illuminated and distinguished life in this state.

As he mentions in his final regular column today, Fraser is not going away. He has plans, and they undoubtedly will contribute in personal and meaningful ways to our larger civic discourse.

For now, it’s time simply to say thank you, Fraser. Well done. Very well done.