Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Brad's History

Gone But Not Forgotten

FrazeeSm.jpg Captain Donald Bradford Frazee, United States Air Force Academy Class of 1964, died of unknown causes in Boston, MA on March 11, 2000.

Brad was the exemplar of a guy with both lots of intelligence and too much free time. He could look at any calculus equation and with an instantaneous “Aha!” visualize its derivation. Here was a wizard never seen to crack a book, yet he passed every course with a minimum of effort. So minimal were Brad's efforts that he managed to graduate in the upper 9/10 of his class. Known as “Frazzle” or “Reddy Kilowatt” to those who liked him — and everyone did — Brad was never a member of any in-crowd, but that didn't seem to bother him very much. He spent most of his early free time — which was considerable — doing mathematical puzzles, reading science fiction, debunking political logic, and visualizing electronic schematics. Even before the late 1960's Age of Aquarius, Brad dabbled in every known religious and political cult from Aku-Aku to Zen — not as a believer, but because he was both bright and curious.

Now it can be told. Bored by the academic challenges of USAFA, Brad funneled his considerable intelligence and abilities into DCN (Driving the Commandant-Nuts). Around 1962 Brad became a self-taught master locksmith and USAFA's first unofficial leader of the legendary Terrazzo Skulkers. He organized delighted doolies into volunteer midnight squads who post-midnight would silently move various unmovable aircraft into creative locations. The Bell X-4 had an annoying habit of appearing on parade fields, in the Air Garden pools, and perhaps on rooftops. So successful were these Copperfieldesque dematerializations, that the legendary disappearing X-4 has since been quietly retired to a cemented-down spot behind Arnold Hall.

Brad voluntarily passed up pilot training to enter the Air Force's brand-new egghead career field of computer science. After graduation, this took Brad to postings as diverse as Alaska and Florida, and into the hushed halls of the Foreign Technology Division. But in the 1970s, Brad mysteriously disappeared from the Air Force roles. It was rumored that a guy so brilliant and eccentric could only have been recruited, alternatively, by the CIA, the NSA, or even SPECTRE itself.

The truth is less romantic but no less impressive. After leaving the Air Force he started working at NCR in Dayton, OH. Brad's title was “senior programmer” but in reality he was always the technical and intellectual hub of his group. His capacity to reduce statements and problems to their most basic aspects was tapped by all his colleagues. He suffered fools well, unless they interfered with his pursuit of a solution or with his efforts to help us think clearly. His coffee cup displayed the motto “Anything not worth doing is most certainly not worth doing well.” Brad gave and earned respect from those who competed in the world of ideas and solutions.

Brad, the programmer's programmer, moved to New England in 1979 where he joined ATEX, a leading-edge electronic typesetting company. He broke new ground leading a team which developed software that paginated Supreme Court opinions. In the early 1980s he was recruited at Compugraphic to drive software development of their first workstation-based Electronic Publishing System. Tiring of the publishing arena, but always seeking the technical bleeding edge, Brad pursued a career in Internet companies, most recently Cascade Systems and Art Technology Group.

To friends, family, and colleagues alike, Brad was a gentle mentor, constantly stimulating intellectual pursuits and sharing information from his extensive reading. He retained his fascination with obscure religions. His interests stretched from microprocessors to Aikido. He also bridged the gap to his children's friends, the many young people who came to his house. Brad treated each young person with the same respect and consideration that he showed his adult friends and colleagues, allowing ideas to compete and flourish on their own merit. Through his own drive to expand his knowledge and his always inquisitive approach to life, he taught the people in his life, young or old, to never give up learning. Brad had a sense of humor and an imagination that matched his intellect. He was a man of amazing stories full of detail and imagery that could be triggered by a reference to almost any topic.

His wife, Cyndi Mills; daughters Krista, Maria, and Dana; son Lloyd, and three grandchildren survived Brad. Brad, we—your classmates, friends, and family—will miss you, but only in body. The Spirit of Frazzle still moves through USAFA. Even tonight you'll hear the distant cry, “You man! Halt!” followed by scattering shadowy figures and the next morning's discovery of assorted objects mounted atop flagpoles, ridiculously clothed statues, and teletransported aircraft. Furthermore, we're certain Brad easily made it into heaven, because if he didn't make it past the Pearly Gates in the usual way, then he let himself in with his self-made DES decryption codes.

(By Fred Malmstrom, ‘64, Fred Iannelli, Cyndi Mills, Gone But Not Forgotten, Checkpoints, September 1999)
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