John came to Fork Union Military Academy from his home in Bessemer City, North Carolina. But don't let the name "City" fool you. John's hometown, where he was known as "Buck," had fewer than 4,000 residents. Because his family did not have much money, Buck had to work throughout his time at FUMA, helping to earn his own tuition. Despite this extra workload, Buck graduated from FUMA in June of 1941 as the President of his class, and ranked 11th out of 86 seniors.
Buck's hard work did not go unnoticed. The Headmaster at that time, Nathaniel J. Perkins, wrote a letter of recommendation for Buck, describing him as possessing a number of outstanding qualities: "excellent character - dependable and trustworthy, unbounded energy, amenable to discipline, loyalty to school and its officers, a most pleasing personality, a most promising young man in every particular, a devoted Christian." Perkins predicted that "he will reach a position of importance in life."
That prediction came true.
Buck left North Carolina State University after just one year to join the Army as a private to serve in World War II. Buck was soon selected to attend Officers School and found himself commanding a company of US Army Combat Engineers in Europe, where he served with distinction. After the war, Buck returned to North Carolina to begin a business career that saw him rise quickly through management and executive positions.
Buck joined the Carolina Freight Carriers Corporation in 1949. By 1952 he was named Executive Vice President. In 1970, he became the President and then Chief Executive Officer. Buck helped grow the company from revenues ot $60 million when he became CEO in 1970 to $350 million or more at the time of his retirement in 1985.
John L. "Buck" Fraley did not forget the school that had given him his start on the road to success and that helped him learn important lessons about leadership and life. He wanted to give back to the Academy, and to make a difference in the lives of cadets attending the school. His sizable donation to Fork Union Military Academy helped fund the renovation of the historic circle in front of Hatcher Hall. The new flagpole, paved walkways, attractive landscaping, and comfortable benches made the circle a place where cadets could gather in their free time for a comfortable rest, conversation with friends, and quiet contemplation.
Buck Fraley died in December 2000, but the benches and beauty of Fraley Circle are still enjoyed by cadets today and for years to come.
How will you be remembered when you graduate from Fork Union Military Academy?
Will you be described as a man of high character and predicted to achieve a position of importance in life?
Will you make a difference in the lives of future cadets and leave your own name on a place of honor on this campus?