Rowland C. Frazee: From soldier to CEO
Rowland Frazee's banking career began as a junior clerk in 1939. At the age of 18, he joined Royal Bank's St. Stephen, New Brunswick branch where he worked under the watchful eye of his father, R. H. Frazee, who managed the branch between 1926 and 1945. He enlisted in the army in 1941, serving in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe with the Carlton and York Regiment, First Canadian Infantry Division, and retired in 1945 with the rank of major.
Frazee was thrice wounded: once in a training exercise in England, at Rimini, Italy, and later in 1944. In a 1975 interview with Peter C. Newman for the bank's staff magazine, Frazee reminisced:
We had been pulled out of the line for the Christmas break and I was out in the streets of this little town talking to the liaison officer from brigade headquarters, who actually had worked for the Royal. All of a sudden the enemy lobbed some shells over the town and I got hit in the head and started to bleed profusely. I crawled into a little house and there were some Italian civilians huddled in there. They were pretty frightened and wouldn't look after me. But one of our chaps came running in, bandaged me up and called for an ambulance. They whipped me off to the regimental first aid post. The doctor asked me about my steel helmet and I said I wasn't wearing one, that I had on my beret which somebody had stuffed into my jacket. He pulled it out and I could see that the shell had hit my regimental badge and shot it across my scalp.
Upon retirement from the army, Frazee enrolled at Dalhousie University in Halifax, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1948. He re-entered the bank that year at Fredericton, New Brunswick. His immediate goal was to become manager of the branch. He never made that goal, but he was named president of Royal Bank in 1977, chief executive officer in 1979, and chairman in 1980.