MSUB  Library

Special Collections

Mayor Willard E. Fraser

Biographical Sketch

Mayor Willard E. Fraser


He was Mayor from 1963-1969 and 1971-1972.


Willard E. Fraser was mayor of Billings for six terms. He was one of the most popular and most colorful mayors Billings has ever had. He died in office of a heart attack on September 21, 1972. 


Fraser was described as a “dreamer, clown and politician extraordinary,” a man who biked to work wearing a Panama hat and white suit, sometimes presided over city council meetings in a sweatshirt, and loved sirens and flashing lights. 


Fraser was also a visionary who loved Billings and its people – and the people returned that affection. Among his dreams: a tunnel through the Rims to ease traffic problems in the Heights; a large manmade lake where Billings residents could fish, sail and swim, and a tram car from the airport to downtown hotels. 


In 1999, a bridge on the bike path near Two Moon Park in the Heights was named the Willard Fraser Memorial Bridge in his honor. (Stevens, K.D. & Redman, D.A. (2000). Billings A to Z. Montana: Fenske Companies.)


1965 River Float on the Yellowstone River
1965 River Float on the Yellowstone River

Wiillard E. Fraser Collection


Willard E. Fraser mayoral papers (1963-1969 & 1971-1972) contain the alphabetized file folders, letters, political campaigns, proclamations, memos, and his correspondence. 


Mayoral papers of Howard Hultgren (1969-1971) and Thompson T. Rowe (1949-1953) are also contained within this collection. 

History on how the collection came to the Montana State University Billings Library can be found in the document Fraser Papers.

The materials in the Archives are non-circulating but are available for research by request in the Special Collections room.


Mayor's Float Trip down the Yellowstone River