They just don’t make newspaper readers like Burnetta Frazee

Given the much publicized, dismal state of the newspaper biz, there’s a running joke that local newspapers decline with each obituary.

Some of our most faithful readers are aging folks who are dedicated newspaper consumers. Of course, they don’t live forever—and when they’re gone, so is one subscription. Morbid as it sounds, it is true for some newspapers in elderly market areas. 

Now, we’re happy to report that the Press circulation is staying far ahead of the obituary count. 

Still, we’re always sad to lose friends and longtime readers—for reasons beyond just circulation, subscriptions and revenue. We also lose a piece of local history. 

Such is the case with Burnetta (Nelson) Frazee, who just died at age 103. (See obituary this week’s edition.) 

We reached the conclusion that she was the longest known subscriber to the Pelican Rapids Press—dating back to 1935. We also suspect she was the oldest known reader of the Press, since she no doubt paged through the paper at home, during her youth and teen years of the 1920s and early 1930s—before she became a near eight decade subscriber. 

Burnetta was a delight to hear from at the office. Though she lived most of her adult life up in the Park Rapids area, she kept a close eye on the Pelican area—and she would call us now and then, with a historic tidbit, or correction on some historic detail. 

We were extremely humbled during the early weeks of the 2020 pandemic, when Burnetta sent us a check for $100. She was concerned that the Pelican newspaper would cease publication under the economic pressure of the pandemic—and she wanted to send financial support. 

We insisted that she reconsider the generous offer. We didn’t feel right about accepting the money. But she was persistant. We finally reached a compromise: I guaranteed Burnetta a “lifetime” subscription to the Press. 

All of our staff enjoyed their contacts with Burnetta over the years. Last time I talked with her, she was mentally sharp, clever and witty as ever. 

So, our condolences to the extended Frazee family. Also a suggestion: We invite one of the clan to carry on Burnetta’s tradition—with a subscription to her hometown newspaper! In fact, Burnetta had a lifetime subscription—so we’d be happy to negotiate an extension! 

Following is a handwritten note, dated Feb. 9, 2020, which Burnetta penned to our office: 

“Dear Pelican Rapids Press staff, 

Congratulations to you all upon your recent awards at the Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention. 

I have heard many comments and compliments as how blessed our community is to have our Pelican Press as our hometown newspaper. 

The very best to you all, now and evermore …”

Burnetta Frazee