Column No. 60

Columnists Lose a Friend and Key Source

Bob Ring, Al Ring, Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon

This is another special column, sadly once again due the passing of someone of critical importance to our past columns, indeed to our entire research and writing efforts over the past four years. Constance Fraser Kiely, 86, died of natural causes on January 4, 2006 at her home in Apache Junction, a few miles east of Phoenix.

In newspaper vernacular, Connie was our “deep throat,” providing us with an amazing amount of detailed information about her family. Connie, the fourth child of Ines and Jack Fraser, was born just three months before her father was brutally murdered by two Mexican bandits on February 27, 1920 in the general store of the mining camp called Ruby.

Al first contacted Connie on October 15, 2002. And the path to that contact was not easy. After years of trying to trace Fraser family relatives, without much success, the breakthrough was finding an obscure newspaper obituary notice for Daphne Fraser, the first of Ines and Jack Fraser’s children, who died in 1981 of cancer. That obituary notice listed surviving relatives including Connie and her son, Bruce Kiely. Al tracked down Bruce on the east coast, confirmed that Connie was the Connie Fraser we were looking for, and received Bruce’s enthusiastic permission to talk to Connie herself about her family history.

So later that same day, Al called Connie in Apache Junction and thus began a truly delightful, and certainly fruitful for us, relationship with a wonderful lady. Just one week later, we made the first of several trips to Apache Junction to talk with Connie. She was interested in our research and writing plans and eager to help.

And what a treasure trove of family history records she had – an example for all us! She showed us scores of old letters, photos, records of all kinds – and she willingly shared these with us.

We visited her a handful of times in the next few years, picking up new records she’d found, returning records that she’s let us borrow, or just to chat. She also agreed to a taped oral history interview. And all the while, Connie couldn’t have been nicer.

On April 18, 2003, the three of us had the pleasure of meeting with the extended Kiely family, including Connie and her son Bruce and his wife Claudia, at the El Conquistador Resort. Clinton Ring, Bob and Al’s dad also attended, to talk about his father and mother’s friendship with Connie’s mother and father. Now that’s the way to do research!

Constance Fraser was born in San Diego, California on November 19, 1919. After her mother Ines settled Connie’s murdered father’s affairs in southern Arizona, she returned to San Diego to raise the four children. Connie never knew her father, of course.

After graduating from Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, Connie traveled to Boston on a birthday trip from her older sister Daphne. Connie remained in Boston to work at a law firm.

Quoting from Connie’s obituary, written by the Kiely family:

“… in 1942 [Connie] married Air Force pilot George A. Kiely. Connie and George lived the military life for 25 years, with stints in such diverse places as Arizona, England, California, Virginia, Japan, and Texas. In 1956, George purchased 5 acres in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction. Following retirement in 1966, the Kielys settled in the Mesa area, and in 1973 constructed their dream house on their Superstition foothills estate. After George passed away in 1979, Connie continued to nurture and enjoy her desert residence until her passing.

“Connie was a remarkable athlete and dancer, with remarkable achievements in both her younger years (with dancing and diving performances in seaside San Diego) and older years. For several years in the 1990s, Connie was the Arizona state Senior Olympics gold medal winner in the 50 and 100-meter running sprints and in tennis singles and doubles. In the 1980s and 1990s, she was star soloist and ensemble dancer with the Forever Young Dancers of Scottsdale. Connie and the dancers shared their jazz and tap dancing routines with audiences in the Valley and across America and the world, including performances in Nashville, Russia, China, Spain, and Australia. Connie’s last performance (and standing ovation) was in her 82nd year.

“Connie is survived by her three sons, as well as 5 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.”

Let us close this column by noting that, in our book, Ruby, Arizona – Mining, Mayhem, and Murder, and in our columns, when we identify a source as “Fraser family records,” those many citations can now be rightfully interpreted as, “from Connie Fraser Kiely.” For years, because of her age and frailty, we protected the name and location of our primary source of information on the Fraser family. It seems appropriate now to gratefully acknowledge Connie’s help and especially her friendship. Godspeed, Connie.


Constance Fraser Kiely will be fondly remembered and sorely missed. (Photo courtesy Kiely family)
Your columnists meet the extended Kiely family. Connie is fifth from left. (Photo provided by Al Ring, 2003)

(Sources: Fraser family records … oops, Constance Fraser Kiely; Arizona Republic, January 8, 2006)

Next Time: Ruby’s best baseball player, Sammy Rothenhausler

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