Cindy Frazier remembered by community and colleagues at memorial

LAGUNA WOODS — A memorial for Coastline Pilot City Editor Cynthia "Cindy" Ellen Frazier, a veteran journalist, took place on Saturday.

Frazier, the newspaper's city editor for nearly eight years, died last month after a battle with pancreatic cancer, which she chronicled in her column, "From Canyon to Cove." She was 60.

About 40 people — including city officials, story sources, co-workers and friends — gathered in a community room at Leisure World in Laguna Woods, where Frazier lived with her partner, Sharon Gretsch.

The mood was somber at times, especially when friends talked about Frazier's bravery when trying to continue living her life, despite her failing body. However, laughter and moments of serenity were frequent as people mentioned Frazier's tenacity, curiosity and loyalty to serving Laguna Beach.

Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson joked that Frazier would be a formidable poker player. Using her news judgment, she knew what she wanted to write about and couldn't easily be coaxed, Johnson said. The two became friends.

"[But] that didn't give me any more ink," Johnson said with a dry smile.

Times Community News, South Editor John Canalis spoke of Frazier's candor when it came to discussing Laguna Beach coverage. He praised her committment to local news and the community's vibrant art scene.

The fighting spirit she brought to the newsroom made its way to her bedside as well.

"When she became sick is when we got closer," Canalis said. "She wasn't bitter or angry that this unfortunate thing had taken over her body."

Elle Harrow, a food columnist for the Coastline Pilot and its sister papers, connected with Frazier on a unique level because she was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as well.

She said the diagnosis hit her hard, and Frazier was there with her positive attitude, inspiring her during difficult moments.

Frazier was not only an accomplished journalist, she was also a photographer, playwright and short story writer. She recently read a personal essay at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She made it to the festival for the reading, hitching a ride with another writer, although she could barely walk.

Johnson said she thought it was Frazier's devotion to Gretsch, whom she wed in Connecticut, that kept her fighting. The two were together for 33 years.

In addition to Gretsch, Cindy is survived by sisters Anne Veno and Elizabeth "Libby" Root, and brother Lou Frazier.

"I will remember Cindy both as a small but formidable presence walking the town, observing and talking to many of us, and also as a brave, caring warrior — right until the end," Johnson said.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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