Oliver Frascona’s life celebrated



  • An overflow crowd attended a celebration of Oliver Frascona’s life on Sunday.
  • Mr. Frascona died in a plane crash on Aug. 31.
  • Mr. Frascona was a rock star in the real estate community.
Oliver E. Frascona

Oliver E. Frascona

Friends of the beloved Oliver E. Frascona, a “rock star” lawyer for Realtors, recalled and rejoiced the life of a man who touched thousands of lives, professionally and personally, during a career that spanned four decades.

So many people packed Sunday’s “Celebration of Oliver’s Life” at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield on a beautiful afternoon that an adjoining ballroom was opened to handle the over-flowing crowd. It is estimated that about 1,000 people attended.

It didn’t matter if someone knew Mr. Frascona from attending of his many highly acclaimed real estate classes, had been represented by him on a real estate transaction or had been casually introduced to him “100 percent of the people who knew Oliver, he was their friend; a gift he had was that everyone he met felt he was your friend,” said Gregg Greenstein, a partner at Boulder-based law firm, Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C.

Mr. Frascona tragically died around noon on Aug. 31 after the Piper PA-46 plane he was piloting crashed at the Erie airport.

His friend, Tori Rains-Wedan, 41, and her three children, 15-year old Mason Wedan and her 11-year-old twins, Austin and Wedan also died in the crash. Mr. Frascona’s dog, Baron, also died when the plane crashed.

At one point, Greenstein, who in addition to being a lawyer, is an entertainer and performer, told a story of how five or six weeks before he died, he finally let Mr. Frascona fly im to Sydney, Nebraska, to play his guitar and perform in a restaurant near Cabella’s headquarters.

Greenstein strummed his guitar and sang part of the song that includes the lyrics:
Silver wings shining in the sunlight
Roaring engines headed somewhere in flight
They’re taking you away, leaving me lonely
Silver wings slowly fading out of sight.

Janice Louden, an attorney with Mr. Frascona’s namesake law firm, said she knows it still feels  “surreal, still  feels unbelievable” that Mr. Frascona is gone.

She read one of Mr. Frascona’s favorite poems, High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., that includes the fitting passage for a passionate pilot such as Mr. Frascona as “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed…and done a hundreds things you have not dreamed of…wheeled and soared and swung.

Mr. Frascona played the organ and keyboard in a band when he attended the University of Colorado Boulder and was a “rock star”in his chosen profession, noted his oldest and best friend, Gary Caswell. They met in ninth grade and their friendship remained rock-strong for more than a half century.

They did everything together from double-dating e to racing ach other on identical Honda motorcycles, earned their private pilot licenses side by side and even made extra bucks by cleaning car windows “steamed up” at a drive-in movie, an ingenuous entrepreneurial endeavor that was the brainstorm of Mr. Frascona’s.

“His unexpected loss left a gaping hole in my heart,” Caswell said.

Friends remember and celebrated Oliver's life on Sunday.

Friends remember and celebrated Oliver’s life on Sunday.

The tribute included photos of Mr. Frascona, often accompanies by country music, showcasing his bigger-than-life handlebar moustache and his sartorial splendor.

The photos also showed him as a youth before he grew a moustache, and casually dressed while in the cockpit of an airplane, camping and enjoying the surf on beaches.

Many photos showed his mouth wide open and unmistakable twinkle in his eye; undoubtedly most people present could hear the roar of his laughter that always ended with his trademark high-pitched sigh.

Above everything else, Mr. Frascona treasured his two children, Monica and Alex.

Monica, 35, also a lawyer, said she will miss a “million little things” about her father.

Like when he would pick her up the airport he would tell her exactly where he was standing and how she would recognize him by quipping, “I will look like me.”

She echoed a passage in a tribute handed out that said in part: “Oliver lived life with incredible gusto…He had two speeds — 100 miles per hour and asleep.”

Her father was so energetic that it was hard to believe he ever slept, she said.

But since he was a “giver” and not a “taker,” he slept soundly, she said.

She said that her father while incredibly generous with his time and money — they adopted a family every Christmas while growing up — he also was extremely competitive and valued hard work.

She read one of his favorite passages, The Man in the Arena speech by Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

“Dad lived his life in the arena,” Monica said.

Jon Goodman, a principal at the Boulder law firm, said he has been told time and time again since the death of his friend, mentor and business partner that he has big shoes to fill.

“I’n not Oliver Frascona and I can’t fill his shoes,” Goodman said.

However, he said early indications are that clients have remained loyal to the firm and they will continue to do so.

Linda Spray, a broker with Veracity Realty in Arvada, summed up what many paying tribute surely felt.

“We are all kind of floundering. Oliver was force in our industry for 40 years. What are we going to do now?

One top broker confided that if she lets herself cry, she may never stop.

Part of the answer might be found with Mr. Frascona’s three mantras:

  • “I’m going to be Ok/You’re going to be Ok.”
  • “I’m just here to tell you…”
  • “What’s wrong with that.”

Scott Plum, who like Mr. Frascona teaches real estate classes, showed the power of the aphorisms by stringing them together: “I’m just here to tell you, I’m going to be Ok. You’re going to be OK. What’s wrong with that?”

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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