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Oberlin College Trustee Robert Frascino ’74, 1952-2011

Sept. 21, 2011

Robert James Frascino ’74 MD, vice chair of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees, died this past Saturday in California of bacterial sepsis. He was 59 years old.

“Bob was a wonderful trustee and friend to Oberlin,” says President Marvin Krislov. “His leadership, dedication, and unfailingly positive spirit brightened our community. We mourn his loss. He leaves a legacy at Oberlin that we will cherish.”

Frascino joined the Board of Trustees in 2004 and was elected to a second term in 2007. A fellow of both the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Frascino was associate clinical professor of medicine, Division of Immunology, Rheumatology, and Allergy, at Stanford University Medical Center from 1983 until 2001.

In 1991, while performing a routine medical procedure on a patient with HIV infection, Frascino sustained a hollow-bore needle stick and laceration, resulting in his seroconversion to HIV positive. He retired from his medical practice in 1996 to concentrate his efforts on AIDS awareness, fund raising, and teaching.

That year, Frascino and his husband, Steven Natterstad MD, formed a charity, the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, which has raised more than $1,500,000 for various HIV/AIDS causes. Each year, Frascino and Natterstad, both pianists, performed at their benefit, A Concerted Effort. Tragically, this year’s event was to be held Sunday, September 18, the day after Frascino’s death.

In May 2000, Frascino began hosting a Q&A forum for TheBody.com, an online resource about HIV/AIDS. “Since then, he has touched millions of people through his Q&A forums on HIV prevention and HIV-related fatigue and anemia, as well as his blog,” writes Aryeh Lebeau, the website’s general manager, in the website's memorial to Frascino.

A few years ago, Frascino wrote for the Oberlin Stories Project: “Oberlin taught me many things. One of the most valuable was how to be adaptable to life's unscheduled events. My liberal arts education at Oberlin was transformative in many ways. It allowed me to evolve, survive, and thrive in ways I never could have imagined ….

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  • Write anything you like as long as it’s civil and productive. Attack ideas if you wish, but not people. Oberlin = love, remember? (Seriously. Be nice or your comment will be removed.)

Bob helped the Center for Leadership in Health Promotion at Oberlin College recognize World Aids Week for many years by providing support, encouragement and resources. His dedication to World Aids Week and concern for our student body was remarkable and he shall be missed by all the Peer Health Advocates from the Center, past and present. -Lori

Lori Flood (Sept. 25, 2011)

What a truly incredible loss to all of us. My condolences to his husband, Steven.

I had the enormous pleasure of getting to know Robert over the past decade. We spent many an evening discussing the state of Oberlin, the state of medicine, and, of course, our own states. Somehow coming to a meeting without Robert will be a strange event. I will miss that wonderful laugh.


Gideon Y. Schein (Sept. 22, 2011)

Wow, what an accomplished life in such a short time! What an inspiration to us all, to take a very bad situation and not let it make a cause to become bitter and angry, but instead make it a cause to be inspired to make a difference! I didn't know him, but I am so inspired! Condolences to his husband, Steven. Keep being that light to make a difference in the world!

deansauto (Sept. 22, 2011)