The 3 Joes

Hello from the History Department.

It’s not often that we can connect one of our own employees back three generations with a McMenamins property. And it’s even more rare when we can connect them with three different properties. Read along as we recount this amazing story involving Joes I, II and III – or perhaps you’ve already seen it outside the McMenamins Elks Temple guestroom named The 3 Joes?


Joseph Frazier (the first) was born in Reno, NV, in June 1929. His family moved around a lot, including a stint in Portland, OR. As fate would have it, Joe’s family lived just a block away from what is now the McMenamins Kennedy School in Northeast Portland. At the time, it was a well-attended grade school, and Joe himself was a student there before his family moved to California.

Growing up, Joe wanted to be a pilot and work with airplanes, just like his father. However, despite gaining his pilot’s license, a disagreement with his dad led to his flying ambitions being forever grounded. So, Joe enlisted in the Marines in 1946 and served until 1949. After his service, he married Dorothy Douglass, and they moved to Long Beach, CA.

In 1952, the couple had a son, Joseph Frazier II (in photo, on right); in that very same year, Joe was called upon for more military service in the Korean War. It was a hard tour of duty for him and his family. Joe, like so many soldiers of the era, was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. Not long after returning home, his marriage with Dorothy dissolved; Joe gained custody of his son as the dust of the divorce settled. Dorothy passed away not long afterwards in 1955.

In 1956, Joseph Frazier I moved with his son to the Tacoma area, where he began to lead a peculiar double life in an effort to stay above water. On one end, he was an upstanding citizen: he founded his own private investigation business, worked directly with the police, joined the Washington State Guard Reserve, became a member of the Tacoma Elks Lodge and even offered himself up as a contender to be Pierce County Sheriff.

Yet on the other side of things, Joe began to take on occasional jobs for the Tacoma mob. Primarily, he helped run pull-tabs, a gambling scheme involving rigged lottery tickets. He was also a frequent patron of a legendary waterfront club (and notorious mob hangout) called Top of the Ocean. There he met a singer and performer named Laura, who would later become his second wife. Joseph Frazier II recounts many memories of how his dad would bring him along regardless of what he was doing – he tagged along on stakeouts when his father was doing investigations, he accompanied him to Elks Lodge events and went with him on flights whenever his father got the chance to pilot a plane. He even went with his dad to Top of the Ocean from time to time. While young Joe might not have had a firm grasp on what was happening around him, he always felt like his dad wanted him to be there, all of which contributed to a strong father-son relationship.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Joseph Frazier I’s dealings with the mob began to erode. Tragically, it culminated in his suicide in January 1962, an act that he carried out to protect his family. Ten-year-old Joseph Frazier II continued living in Washington with family after his father’s death. Later, as a young man, Joe II pursued a life as an educator, a career he says was inspired by his dad. He went to college, taught in Australia for two years, then moved back to the Pacific Northwest to eventually become a school principal in Vancouver, WA, in the 1990s.

Joe II married and started a family of his own, naming one of his children Joseph Frazier (shown in the photo, middle), in keeping with tradition. Joe created new family traditions, too, one of which was spending time at various McMenamins properties; Edgefield in Troutdale, OR, was a special gathering spot for the Fraziers. On another occasion, Joe found himself at the Kennedy School not long after McMenamins had renovated it, incredibly coming across a framed photograph of his dad as a young student there! This historical parallel strengthened Joe’s connection with his father, and also with McMenamins.

Connections between the family and McMenamins continue to this day. Joseph Frazier III got a job at Kennedy School as a cook in 2001 before going to college for information technology studies. As of 2019, Joe III is head of our IT department and a beloved member of our McMenamins family. And, as often happens within a company like ours, Joe met his wife Izzy (a fellow McMenamins employee, in photo at left) while working together. Their wedding ceremony was held at Edgefield. And the legacy continues….


  1. Mims on September 19, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    so heart warming! I love these personal stories. too me, it is at the heart of what McMenamins is all about: preserving history one story, and one property at a time!

  2. Tonya Walters on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Nice and such a storied past 😮

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