We at the Center for Interfaith Relations (CIR) are saddened by the passing of Owsley Brown Frazier. The CIR is among the large number of beneficiaries of his dynamic leadership and generous philanthropy. Although a prominent Episcopalian, Owsley had the vision to recognize the benefits to the entire community deriving from the celebration of our rich religious diversity, thereby promoting peaceful unity in our community and strengthening the role of religion in society. His own words, which appear in The Gift of Sharing (2007), attest to the value that he placed on interfaith activity. In speaking of Archbishop Thomas Kelly, he observed that the Archbishop’s “words and actions of praise, discovery, devotion and revelation touched the lives of diverse believers, making CHF’s (the Cathedral Heritage Foundation’s) shared goals personal to each of our pilgrimages and helping us see that we as a body of struggling, growing, emerging believers truly need to embrace our shared history of faith.”
In 1985, Owsley joined the newly formed Board of Directors of the CHF, the mission of which was to restore, renovate, and revitalize the historic Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption. While Owsley was always interested in history and historic preservation, he also was personally attracted to CHF because of his devotion to Archbishop Kelly, who was leading the Cathedral project. Upon visiting the decaying Cathedral complex, he vowed that he would not allow “our Archbishop” to live in such dreadful conditions. He led the effort to transform the Cathedral Residence into a lovely home so that Archbishop Kelly could reside there, the first Ordinary of the diocese to do so in 120 years.
Owsley served on our Board of Directors as a member from 1985 to 2001 and a Chairman Emeritus from 2001 to the present. He played a key role in transitioning our organization from the Cathedral Heritage Foundation to the Center for Interfaith Relations after the interior restoration and renovation work on the Cathedral was completed. The new title signaled the commitment of the Center to all faith traditions. At the same time, he helped to establish the George Garvin Brown Park in the heart of our city, and encouraged the Brown-Forman Corporation’s founding support of the annual Festival of Faiths.
Owsley Brown Frazier’s memory will live on in the many local institutions that he supported. The Frazier International History Museum, the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University, and local historic preservation are all part of the rich and abiding legacy left by this great man to our community. We cherish his memory, and we join our prayers to those of his countless benefactors in thanksgiving for all that he has done, and in a plea for consolation for his loving family and for all others who suffer his great loss.
-Turney Berry, Board Chairman, Center for Interfaith Relations
-John Reed, Board President, Center for Interfaith Relations
-Patrick Potter, Board Treasurer, Center for Interfaith Relations
-Kathleen Lyons, Executive Director, Center for Interfaith Relations