Dr. Christine White (’01) had gotten gifts from grateful patients before, including stained glass and a beautiful quilt that hangs in her Black Bear Naturopathic Clinic in Missoula, Mont.
And, although she had treated Percy and Adrienne Frazier since 2003 and was close to them, she had no idea the couple would want to make a sizable gift to NCNM. But when Percy died in 2006, Adrienne, already in her 90s herself, wanted to get her estate in order.
She called White at the clinic and told her she wanted to leave some money to support naturopathic education. After easily making the case with Adrienne for her alma mater, White called NCNM to pass on the good news to Susan Hunter, vice president of Advancement.
Then, a bit later, after Adrienne had also passed away, came the big surprise. “I thought we were dealing with $10,000 or $20,000, which would have been wonderful,” White confessed. But when Hunter called and told her the total was over $1 million, “I was speechless. I said ‘Oh my God, wow!’”
Though the Fraziers were well known for their philanthropy in Missoula, they were also known as just regular folks, living comfortable but frugal lives, said White.
However, “They definitely had a passion for the disadvantaged, a place in their hearts for those who did not have the financial advantages they had,” she recalled. That passion now lives on through their gift to White’s alma mater—the Frazier bequest will fund need-based scholarships for NCNM students.
White speculates that attitude for the underdog may have come from the Frazier’s childhoods – Adrienne was an orphan and Percy was an only child. The couple had no children of their own, but always had youth in mind when conducting their philanthropy, including donating the proceeds from the sale of their Missoula home to a ranch for boys and girls in Montana.
When all the details were worked out and the check presented on a snowy day in Missoula, White recalls bursting into tears of joy. “I was holding on to this energy to get this gift to NCNM,” she said, “I was just so incredibly glad we closed the circle.”
It was a circle that began in Portland in the late ‘90s with White learning how to restore people to health through natural medicine. Said White: “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am so passionate about this work and I wouldn’t be here doing it if I hadn’t stumbled across NCNM.”