November 2, 1936 ~ November 1, 2022

Born in: Dewitt, Illinois
Resided in: Taylorville, Illinois

Katie Fraley – a dynamic elementary school teacher who influenced countless students over four decades in the classroom, and was an exuberant force in the civic life of the Taylorville community – has died. She was 85.

Mary Kate “Katie” Reeder was born on November 2nd, 1936, in DeWitt, Illinois, just outside of Clinton, to Inez B. and John H. Reeder, who farmed in the area. She was the youngest child and had seven brothers.

After graduating from Clinton High School, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Illinois Wesleyan University, where she was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority.

In 1958, she married Earl Thomas “Tom” Brandon of Clinton. The couple lived briefly in Clinton and in Shelbyville, Illinois, before moving to Taylorville, where Tom was a farm loan manager at what was then the First Trust Bank on the Square. In 1965, following Tom’s death at the age of 31, Katie worked to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois by attending night school in Springfield and summer school in Champaign, while teaching school in Taylorville and raising her young daughter.

In 1967, she married Taylorville attorney, Vance Fraley, who survives her.

For nearly 40 years, she taught fourth grade at North Elementary School, where she arrived every day flamboyantly dressed and raring to go. A creative and charismatic teacher, she cared deeply about her students, and she took great pride in their accomplishments in the classroom and in all stages of their lives. At North School, she was well known for directing the school’s Christmas musicals, holding an annual Hawaiian luau, and instructing students in the fine art of assembling scrapbooks about Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, after so many years of teaching students about the life of Honest Abe, she became a self-taught authority on him.

After 41 years in the classroom, she “retired,” leaving teaching but not education. She was elected to three four-year terms on the Taylorville School Board. Her vision – she always had one – was for the school district to build a fine arts center, a goal that, while not realized during her tenure on the board, is now in early planning and fund-raising phases.

Katie was an energetic fixture in many facets of community life – at the Taylorville First United Methodist Church, with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and through P.E.O., an international women’s education and advocacy organization.

In the mid-1970s, she was one of a small group of families who helped revive the tradition of hosting foreign-exchange students in Taylorville. Her initiative led the Fraleys to become the American Field Service (AFS) host family for a Swedish student, Lena Hallgren, for a school year; more than four decades later, Lena and her family in Sweden remain a part of the extended Fraley family.

Katie played piano well, and she loved to sing. She delighted in music of all kinds, and she was a presence at virtually all Taylorville music events and musicals over the years, usually nodding her head, tapping her foot, and singing along.

She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Vance Fraley, of Taylorville; daughter, Karen Brandon (Christopher Woodruff), of Oxford, England; daughter Lenee Soto of Lake Zurich, Ill.; son Derek Fraley (Melissa Fraley) of Edwards, Ill.; and AFS daughter, Lena Kolvik (Jonas Kolvik) of Gothenburg, Sweden; grandchildren Jackson Woodruff and Avery Woodruff of Edinburgh, Scotland; Samuel Soto and Nic Soto of Lake Zurich, Ill.; Madelyn Fraley and Landon Fraley of Edwards, Ill; and AFS granddaughters, Julia Kolvik of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Linnea Kolvik, of Stockholm, Sweden; a cousin, Dorothy Addison (Ken Addison) of Paris, Kentucky; many nieces and nephews; many grandnieces and grandnephews; and countless former students who have said that she was an influential figure in their education and in their lives.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Earl Thomas Brandon; her seven brothers; her son-in-law, Rafael Soto; a niece, Joan Diaz; and a nephew, Galen Reeder.

Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 12th, at the Shafer-Perfetti & Assalley Funeral Home in Taylorville. A funeral service and celebration of her life will follow at 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Taylorville, with burial to follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.

The family suggests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Taylorville Public Schools Foundation, with funds directed to the new fine arts center.


Visitation: November 12, 2022 9:00 am - November 12, 2022 12:00 pm

Shafer-Perfetti & Assalley Funeral Home
202 West Franklin Street
Taylorville, Illinois 62568

Funeral Ceremony: November 12, 2022 1:30 pm

First United Methodist Church of Taylorville
200 S. Walnut St.
Taylorville, IL 62568

Interment: November 12, 2022 3:00 pm

Oak Hill Cemetery
820 S. Cherokee St.
Taylorville, IL 62568

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The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Mary Kate "Katie" Fraley's name.

Taylorville Public Schools Foundation

815 Springfield Rd Suite B
Taylorville, IL

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  1. Light a CandleShe was always waving at us as we walked down Main Cross and in front of her cute cottage. She was a wonderful and enthusiastic teacher. Will miss seeing her at church. Rest in peace Mrs. Fraley🌸🌸🌸

    • Will definately be missed.Katie taught several of our children was a great teacher R I P and fly high with the angels

  2. You will always be loved, Mrs. Fraley! You were one of the best educators ever. You made school fun! Your passion for teaching showed. Your students loved you just as much as you loved them. Heaven gained an angel.

  3. Such a lovely, friendly woman. She always knew me! Thoughts and prayers to the whole family and to all that loved her.

  4. Light a CandleSo sad to hear this. Three of my four children had her as a teacher and just loved her. She was a great lady and a great teacher. My oldest daughter didn’t have her for a teacher but went to school with Derek. Our deepest sympathies to the entire family during this very difficult time. She was loved and will be missed and never forgotten.

  5. My deepest sympathy is extended to the Family of our dear Katie. Katie was a bright light to so many in her earthly life. I will always remember her love and kindness and her bright smile.

  6. We send our love and sympathy to all of you as you remember Katie. Katie was so special to everyone that was fortunate to know her. Our two children had Katie as their 4th grade teacher. We still have the Lincoln scrapbooks stored away and we still dot our i’s and cross our t’s! We will always smile when we think of Katie. One very special woman who will always be remembered as one of a kind!

  7. I know there will be a celebration in heaven foe this amazing lady ❤ You touched so many lives and made the world a bwtter place. Even after 40 years, I have so many good memories from fourth grade at North school. My prayers are with your family.

  8. I know there will be a celebration in heaven for this amazing lady ❤ You touched so many lives and made the world a better place. Even after 40 years, I have so many good memories from fourth grade at North school. My prayers are with your family.

  9. Light a CandleDeepest condolences to Katie’s family and all her friends. I was privileged to met Katie through P.E.O. She was such a delightful, friendly and elegant lady.

  10. So very sad to hear this. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. She was such a wonderful person and teacher. She just made you smile. ❤️

  11. Light a CandleSad loss of a great lady. Will never forget her. She was a great mentor and alway made you want to learn more. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  12. Light a CandleDear Vance & all the kids, my mother, Donna Rae & I are heartbroken of this sad news of this great lady’s passing. She was one of a kind & touched many people in her life on this earth! She will be remembered by many with great spirit! Blessed to have had her a part of our lives. Now she is upstairs with her loved ones, probably looking up John H. Ward, to let him know what’s going on! She will be watching over you all. guiding you from up above, till you can all be together again! Peace & Love to you all!

  13. Light a CandleI absolutely loved her! She made fourth grade the best ever! Even though I totally hated doing the scrapbook I still have it to this day. I can still hear and see her snapping her fingers in the air and saying lookee lookee lookee cookies and another phrase I absolutely love to this day is.your i’s and cross your t’s and Mrs. Fraley you will please. The luau at the end of the school year was always a blast! I also got to know her through being in 4H with Lenee. She was always a joy helping us make up a skit for the share the fun contest for 4H. I have very fond memories of her and I know she will be greatly missed. Sorry I am unable to attend the service and visitation but I will sure be thinking about her and your entire family

  14. Mrs. Fraley will always have a piece of heart. I’ve had amazing teachers in my life and good god Katie Fraley was one of the absolute best. Her unique, fiery spirit and passion will always be constant inspiration for the rest of my life. I wish her family and loved ones peace and love for years to come.

  15. Light a CandleI’ll always remember Mrs Farley. I always loved her tick a lock and throw it away saying. She was a great teacher and mentor. Prayers for her family.

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