Community turns out to honor the life Sylvia Frazier

September 21, 2013

In life, Sylvia Frasier shuttled between her day job as a network security administrator for the Naval Sea Systems Command and her role as a pillar of a church community who expressed her faith through music, mime and dance at Rhema Christian Center Church in Northeast Washington.

So it was fitting that hundreds of the friends and family who worshiped with her every week helped host a memorial service for Frasier in the Glenarden cul-de-sac where she grew up. Dozens of people, holding hands in a large circle as they prayed, turned her childhood home and street into an open-air spiritual celebration complete with praise dancers and singing.

Frasier 53, was one of 12 people killed Monday in the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

As the church’s praise team sang “God is great and worthy to be praised!” young members of the liturgical dance ministry swayed through the service waving large colored flags. Well-wishers hugged and clasped hands with members of Frasier’s family, who have lived in Prince George’s County for decades.

Wendy Edmonds, Frasier’s sister and a professor at Bowie State University, said it was fitting to have a community celebration there because “everybody called this home base.”

Agreeing with his sister, Bobby Frasier said the family was a focal point for many community gatherings in the past. And Sylvia was often at the center.

“When we were kids, they called our parents mom and dad,” he said of many who came to pay their condolences Saturday.

James and Eloise Frasier, Sylvia Frasier’s parents, held hands as they sat in chairs near their driveway for the outdoor musical program. “Thank you, thank you,” said James Frasier, a retired Navy petty officer. “We want to thank everybody.”

Saturday’s event was the first of two public services for Frasier. She will be eulogized next Saturday at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, where family members said they expect hundreds to pay their respects.

Perhaps as a reflection of the community nature of the service, Saturday’s event was attended by local leaders offering their condolences, including Prince George’s County Council Chairman Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale) and former Maryland state senator David C. Harrington (D).

U.S. Navy Capt. Lorin Selby also stopped by.

“It is not about me. It is about this family that has given so much,” Selby said.

Sylvia Frazier was loved by family, neighbors and church members and in the wake of her death at the Navy yard on Saturday her family hosted an outdoor praise service in Glenarden. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)

As Tony Jefferson, Rhema Christian Center’s minister of music, concluded the service, he offered a prayer: “Father, we thank you for the life of our beloved sister. She touched so many lives. God, we thank you. She was a woman of honor.”

Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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