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Volunteer Spotlight: Dave Fraser says his time at museum is all about meeting the people

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Editor's note: For the next several weeks, The Destin Log will be highlighting in the Saturday editions people in our community that voluntarily offer themselves for service around town.

Dave Fraser has logged in more than 4,100 volunteer hours greeting visitors as they enter the Destin Fishing Museum, located on Stahlman Avenue across from the Destin Community Center.

Logging more then 4,100 hours as a volunteer, Dave Fraser just recently celebrated his  10th anniversary of greeting folks at the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

"The people, no question about it," is Fraser's favorite thing about volunteering at the museum.

"It's fun meeting folks and how quickly you can figure them out. Some you can joke around with and some you can't," he said.

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Fraser started at the museum in August of 2010 after his wife Darlene found an ad in the newspaper that the museum was looking for help. 

"I was just looking to volunteer somewhere," he said. 

Frazer had retired after working at Eglin Air Force Base for more than 25 years as a defense contractor and then dabbled in real estate.

More:Volunteer Spotlight: Sweetser loves serving the city he calls home

They sold their house and bought a motor home and drove around the country for two years before settling down in Destin.

"I don't think I ever moved away ... the two years in the motor home was just an extended vacation," he said.

After settling back in, he found a home at the museum.

"I greet folks when they come in and I tell them a little bit about the museum. I take their money and if they want to buy something from our gift shop, I sell it to them," he said.

Fraser works Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at the front desk from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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Although working with the people is his favorite thing to do at the museum, his favorite exhibit or area is the Rodeo gallery.

The Rodeo gallery is all about the Destin Fishing Rodeo which will be celebrating it's 72nd year next month.

Dave Fraser has logged in more than 4,100 volunteer hours greeting visitors as they enter the Destin Fishing Museum, but his favorite part of the museum remains the room dedicated to documenting the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

"There's just so much good stuff in the Rodeo gallery," said Fraser who has also volunteered with the Rodeo on occasion as a judge.

"It's very complete," he said of the gallery. 

"We've got a whole lot of data," he said, noting the old Rodeo record books as well as official guide books.

Fraser explained that earlier this week that some people came to the museum and they were talking about how their dad caught a big king mackerel that won the Rodeo in 1954. 

"We went and found the book and pointed to his name in the book," Fraser said, which was a great experience for the family.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Fraser has always been interested in history and fishing.

"I've been known to (fish), but not recently," Fraser said.

"I do better at Sexton's and Destin Ice than I do on a boat. It's guaranteed and cheaper too," he added.

The local seafood markets fit the bill for his love of seafood.

Fishy news:King mackerel to take center stage in Big Mac Classic; $10,000 up for grabs

"They put signs out front of what they have, and when it's one of the things I want ... I stop by. You can't lose," he said.

And it's been a "can't lose" situation for the museum to have the service of Fraser.

"Dave has been a wonderful loyal volunteer and friend," said Kathy Marler Blue, executive director of the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

"He has a love for history which he received from his parents taking him to museums and cultural events when he was young. He loves talking to visitors, especially those from areas where he and his wife Darlene visited on their two year RV excursion when he retired," she said.

And after 10 years of service, Fraser has no plans to quit offering his service. 

"I'm thinking a pine box will certainly stop me ... but I absolutely enjoy my time here ... and my favorite thing is taking care of the folks as they come in," he said.