Father-son duo David and Derek Fraley know the value of hard work.
When they were growing up, David’s father, David Fraley Sr., taught them a work ethic that has stayed with them throughout college and their careers.
“He taught us to do it all,” Derek said, “and if you think you’ve finished your job, you haven’t looked around to see what else needs to be done.”
Making education a priority in the family
David Fraley Sr. was born and raised in post-Depression Joplin, Missouri.
“I don’t know if there’s a way to emphasize how poor they were,” Derek said.
Fraley Sr. started working at a young age to help support his struggling family.
At the end of his time in high school, he made the decision to marry, work and raise a family instead of going to college.
Despite his lack of higher education, Fraley Sr. was successful in business endeavors. He started in the restaurant business and moved on to road sales while his family was still growing. Along with his wife, Betty, he managed a wholesale electronic parts store until he retired in 2001.
When his children were grown, he made it a priority for them to receive the education he never did.
“He always made sure that we had, in his words, ‘all the education you wanted,’ David said.
“He never dissuaded us from going to school. He would do whatever he could to encourage us.”
Giving others a chance to attend college
David graduated from Missouri State in 1975 with a degree in environmental science.
He was at the forefront of an industry that helped companies comply with new environmental regulations.
Derek followed his dad’s path as a Bear, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Both continued their education post-graduation, receiving master’s degrees and, in David’s case, a PhD.
Throughout both of their careers, David as an environmental manager and Derek in the banking industry, they never forgot how fortunate they were to receive an education.
“I’ve met some really, really brilliant people working in the utility industry who didn’t have the chance to go to school,” David said. “They could have accomplished everything I’ve accomplished and more scholastically if they’d just had the chance.”
Well, he says of the gift he recently established at MSU: “here’s the chance.”
“The best thing anyone had ever done for him”
In November 2017, David and Derek started the process to establish a scholarship in honor of David Sr. and his late wife, Betty.
“The scholarship is for kids like dad,” David said, “to help them get the degree that dad didn’t.”
When the award is being given, preference will be given to a student studying business from Jasper County and surrounding counties — someone who had a job while in high school, showing an appreciation for hard work.
They worked with the MSU Foundation to establish the David and Betty Fraley Endowed Scholarship in December 2017.
They hoped to give it to David Sr. for a holiday gift.
“The foundation did everything they could to have it ready by Christmas,” David said.
When they presented the scholarship information to David Sr. on Christmas Day, they weren’t sure how he would react. His reaction was filled with gratitude.
“He cried,” David said. “He said it was the best thing anyone had ever done for him.”
After all that David Sr. did for his family, David and Derek are excited to pay it forward to future students at Missouri State.
As Derek said: “It’s just really important to make sure the people who come behind you have the same opportunities you had.”