David L. Fraser

December 23, 1921January 6, 2021

David Ladson Fraser passed away peacefully in his Newport Beach home on January 6, 2021 at the age of 99. He was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on December 23, 1921. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Eleanor (Ellie); three daughters Laurie Booth (Barry) of Newport Beach, Diane Strollo (Rick) of Orcas Island and Jennie Heinke (Keith) of Newport Beach. He also leaves four grandchildren Jeannette Palisoul (Phil) of Costa Mesa, Diane Booth of Las Vegas, Hilary Elliott (Rob) of Dallas, Emily Heinke of Seattle and two great grandchildren.

David’s lifelong passion was yachting. He built his first sailboat as a young boy using wood from his father’s lumberyard. His greatest joy came as a teenager when he served as a deckhand aboard the Anna R. Heidritter, a four masted schooner that carried lumber and coal from Charleston, South Carolina to ports on the Atlantic Coast. It was this schooner’s silhouette that would become David’s company logo still used today.

David obtained his Bachelors degree in Physics from the Citadel, the military college of Charleston, South Carolina. He was remembered for building their marine railway and fostering their sailing program. WWII called David from this school to attend the US Navy Midshipman School in Chicago. He served as an officer aboard the 260 foot steam powered USS Dauntless on the Potomac and on a destroyer in the Mediterranean before reaching the distinction of Commander while in the Naval Reserve.

During the war he met his future bride Ellie Arnold in Boston at the Officers Club. They were married in 1949 and honeymooned on a cross country trip to California. David had begun his yacht sales career in Wilmington before settling at an office on the Lido Peninsula. Many of David’s first buyers were World War II veterans wanting to settle in Newport Beach and go boating.

David also loved sailboat racing. In the 1950’s and 60’s he was part of a sailing team aboard Baldwin M. Baldwin’s Escapade as navigator. He raced three Transpac races, a Jamaica and Bermuda race and a Transatlantic race from Bermuda to Sweden. It took 19 days to complete the Transatlantic race, where his team came in first place.

Over the next 70 years, Ellie and David would remain in their home in Cliff Haven, where David would tend to his redwood forest, a landmark in the neighborhood. He would also grow his business Fraser Yachts into his legacy. David set the example of this industry for ethics, knowledge and integrity. Fraser Yachts expanded to San Diego, Sausalito, Seattle and Fort Lauderdale in the 1960’s and 70’s, eventually becoming a worldwide full service company to the yachtsman with 17 offices globally, specializing in new construction, sales, management, insurance and charter. He retired in 2010 at the age of 89.

David’s affiliations include the Newport Harbor Yacht Club where he was a 65+ year member, St Francis Yacht Club, Transpacific Yacht Club, and the American Legion. He served on the California Yacht and Ship Broker Commission while Ronald Reagan was Governor of California.

David retained his southern accent, his charm and sense of humor all through his life. He loved telling his stories to his family and friends of his life and memories in South Carolina. He instilled his work ethic and independent spirit in his three daughters and four granddaughters. A small family memorial is planned at a later date.

Should you wish to honor his memory, the family suggests a gift to the Newport Harbor Sailing Foundation ( or The Citadel Foundation/ Sailing Team (


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


David L. Fraser

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Joanie Sprague

January 15, 2021

David was a good friend. He had so many stories, some of which I recorded so I’d never forget them. Please let me know if you’d like them I will email them to you. He was a walking history book. He was also hilarious and would say things that made us blush but also laugh so hard at. He was just the best. We enjoyed the occasional cocktail or coffee together and he would show us his memories, books and other memorabilia he had from his childhood and past. What a true gem. He will be greatly missed. I enjoyed our times together. Rest In Peace, David.

Craig Dorsey

January 15, 2021

David was such a wonderful man. We were so fortunate to have known him.
Love to Ellie, family & rest in peace David.
Craig & Jill Dorsey