Friends mourn Oliver Frascona

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Watch a video of Oliver at the end of this blog.

Highlights:

  • Oliver E. Frascona has been a fixture in Colorado Real Estate for 40 years.
  • Mr. Frascona died Sunday in a plane crash.
  • Mr. Frascona is remembered as the consummate attorney, educator and friend.
Oliver Franscona liked these images so much he made it the cover of his Facebook page.

Oliver Frascona liked these images so much he made it the cover of his Facebook page.

Oliver E. Frascona.

Oliver E. Frascona.

 

The Colorado real estate community is mourning the death of Oliver E. Frascona, a Boulder-based real estate attorney who represented and educated thousands of professionals in the real estate industry during the past four decades with his vast knowledge of complex issues, an understanding of how to make the information relevant, and with humor.

Mr. Frascona died Sunday, piloting his Piper Malibu Mirage six-seat plane near the Erie Municipal Airport, crashing a few hundreds yards from the runway.

Also dying in the plane with Mr. Frascona was Tori Rains-Wedan, 41,  a former real estate broker who had launched a real estate school and her three sons and a  dog. Her children were Mason Wedan, 15, and 11-year-old twins, Austin and Hunter.

The outpouring of grief, shock and sadness, for Mr. Frascona, 67, is reminiscent of the emotional memories following the death of Robin Williams.

“As an outside looking in, I am convinced that people didn’t mainly take his real estate courses to get the continuing education real estate credits, but because he was a fricking entertainer and a stand-up comedian,” said Mr. Frascona’s best friend,  Gary Caswell, who met Mr. Frascona in 9th grade and then went to high school, college and Navy training with him.

Caswell, a professional pilot, had no reason to sit in on the  courses, other than to watch his lifelong friend at work.

He was never disappointed or bored.

“I would watch people literally scribble down everything he said and then fall on the floor laughing,” Caswell said.

Force of nature

Chris Mygatt, president of Coldwell Banker Residential of Colorado, said Mr. Frascona was a force of nature in the real estate world.

“In real the Colorado real estate world, Oliver was huge,” Mygatt said.

Dozens and dozens of real estate people were posting tributes to Mr. Frascona on Sunday evening throughout Monday on Facebook.

Many of the postings were so touching that it is easy to imagine the writers barely holding back tears as they penned their personal tributes.

With his large, white handlebar mustache and earnest voice, he filled the room during his frequent real estate continuing education classes.

Impeccably decked out in a three-piece suit, the shareholder at the Boulder law firm of Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C., would routinely take the most complex real estate law or order and make it understandable, explaining why it mattered to the Realtor on the street.

If you knew Mr. Frascona for 50 years or 15 minutes, he gave you his undivided attention when your paths crossed, making you feel welcome and important, as if you were doing him the favor of picking his brain.

“It wouldn’t be unusual that Oliver and I would be having dinner at 7:30 or 8 p.m., his phone would ring and would be a Realtor in Durango or someplace asking for his advice,” Mygatt said.

“I used to joke to Oliver that if you charged for all of the free legal advice you gave, you would be the richest guy in Colorado,” Mygatt said.

Generous, like Robin Williams

That generosity is a trait Mr. Frascona shared with Robin Williams, even though the circumstances of their deaths were so much different, said housing consultant S. Robert August.

“Like Robin Williams, Oliver was very giving,” said August, who first met Mr. Frascona soon after moving to the Denver area 36 years ago.

“Oliver’s door was always open,” August said.

“He was the quintessential individual,” August said. “He was an outstanding attorney. Very smart, very personable. One of his gifts was that he could take the most complicated issue and make it simple.”

Mygatt was not only a long-time friend of Mr. Frascona’s, but he was a fellow pilot.

Indeed, Mygatt realized that it was Mr. Frascona’s plane that had crashed from its tail numbers when he watched the TV news on Sunday night.

“He loved real estate, but his real passion was flying an airplane,” Mygatt said. “He was never as happy and confident and content, as he was in a cockpit.”

Mygatt said Mr. Frascona will be sorely missed.

“To say that this is a tragic loss and horrible waste is an understatement,” Mygatt said.

Liniger had a long history with Oliver

Dave Liniger, who co-founded Denver-based RE/MAX, with his wife, Gail, had a long history with Mr. Frascona.

“He as our first outside attorney back in the ‘70s and so Oliver, Gail and I were good friends for a long time,” Liniger said.

He also had Mr. Frascona speak at a number of international and Colorado meetings for RE/MAX.

“It is so very sad,” Liniger said about Mr. Frascona’s death.

“He was such a well-liked individual in teh real estate community and one of the most foremost experts in real estate law in the country,” Liniger said.

“He had an unbelievable knowledge and understanding of the industry. He was a great friends of Realtors, boards of Realtors and Multiple Listing Services. He promoted doing business correctly. And he literally educated thousands of us,” Liniger said.

But Mr. Frascona’s appeal transcended his vast knowledge, he said.

“One thing about Oliver that he was very high-energy and enthusiastic,” Liniger said.

“He laughed a lot and just had this zest for life,” Liniger said.

“He was a powerful speaker, had a great attidue and when he entered the room it just lit up,” Liniger said.

Liniger and Mr. Frascona also shared a passion for flying.

“I believe he was killed in a Piper Malibu Mirage, known as a PA46 and I had a Piper Malibu for five or six years back in the ‘80s,” Liniger said.

He made such a strong connection with people, he made an outsized impression on people, who only knew him from periodic classes that he taught.

One of them is Mauri Duffey Tamborra, a broker with RE/MAX Southeast.

“Isn’t it amazing that an instructor could touch my life so deeply, just by simply “being” and teaching with such passion? He creates that magical connection with his students” and touched “the lives of thousands so profoundly,” Duffey Tamborra said.

She was so upset when she learned of the crash on Sunday, “I was trembling for hours last night and could not sleep at all,” she said on Monday.

One her Facebook page, she used a number of adjectives to describe Mr. Frascona that few, if any, would say are not fitting.

“Iconic, legendary, larger than life, GENIUS…there are so many ways to describe Oliver Frascona,” she wrote.

Mr. Frascona, the son of a well-known business professor at CU-Boulder, graduated from the same university in 1969.

He was in ROTC at CU and an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve when he graduated. he received is real estate broker’s license in 1972 and in 1974 graduated from the University of Denver’s College of Law.

Mark Wolf was a classmate at CU with Mr. Frascona, who was a year ahead of him.

“We were fraternity brothers” Wolf said. “I met him was a freshman at CU-Boulder, going through the (fraternity) rush.”

Wolf, later a writer and columnist at the Rocky Mountain News, would run into Mr. Frascona from time to time, without having seen him for years.

They would pick up like they had never lost touch with each other.

“We had a fraternity reunion about three years ago and we had no problem reconnecting and talked for 15 or 20 minutes,” Wolf said.

Despite his success in real estate and law, Mr. Frascona didn’t crow about his achievements.

“He wasn’t one of these guys who started talking about himself and you find yourself looking at your watch,” Wolf said.

During college, Mr. Frascona “always had something going on,” he said.

Played in a college bond

He even formed a band called the “Bakersfield Charter.”

“I have no idea where he got that name,” Wolf said.

Mr. Frascona aggressively booked them gigs at various 3.2 clubs throughout Denver and Boulder.

“I think he taught himself to play the keyboards and organ,” Wolf said.

Wolf said that melding real estate and law was the perfect career choice for Mr. Frascona.

“Real estate, because he was always what we would now call and entrepreneur, and law, because he liked to argue,” Wolf said.

A general salutes his friend

One of Mr. Frascona’s roommates at CU, and fellow Bakersfield Charter member, was General William T. Hobbins, who among other things became the Commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe.

“Oliver was one of my very best friends,” Hobbins said via email on Monday.

He went on to that there was nothing Mr. Frascona would not do for others and he was always very kind to people he knew.

Mr. Frascona also liked to have fun, including reuniting the Bakersfield Charter, which in June played at Mr. Frascona’s law firm’s annual barbecue.

“Oliver was a friend to the Realtors in the surrounding states and was widely known for his intellect and humor,” Hobbins said.

“Oliver was kind, generous and passionate about everything he tackled,” his longtime friend said, noting that he was proud of the accomplishments of his grown son and daughter, Monica and Alex.
.
Clearly, his grand, trademark mustache testified to his trust in himself as well as his panache.

“How nice to be so self-assured to go through life somewhat unconventional and pull it off with absolute confidence,” Hobbins said.

“One could say he danced to own music, he was always “all in or all out” …There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do or problem he did not have some sort of solution for.”

Hobbins said others could speak more credibly about Mr. Frascona’s business acumen.

“As one of his best buddies, I can really only speak to the personal side, having been a fraternity brother, band mate and above all, his forever friend.”

Caswell echoed those sentiments.

“I am pretty distraught,” he said. “I’ve lost a friend of 55 years. I sorely miss him.”

The last time he saw Mr. Frascona was the night before he died, at a barbecue in the backyard of Mr. Frascona’s Erie home.

“We talked about old times, future times and flying.”

For more what friends and colleagues have to say about Oliver, please visit InsideRealEstateNews.com.

Video: Oliver Frascona on doing the right thing

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by  8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

 

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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