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It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Russ Fraser. Russ passed away on November 21st at his home in Littleton, CO. Although he was unable to attend FIASI meeting or functions in recent days, he remembered FIASI with fondness. The family requests donations to National Jewish Health, Denver in lieu of flowers.


H. Russell Fraser, 71, passed away Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at his home in Littleton, Colorado.

Russ was a leader in the municipal bond insurance and credit rating industries for more than 40 years. He created and built new and innovative financial service businesses, never compromising his core principles. In many circles, he is considered the father of the municipal bond insurance industry having been instrumental in building the American Municipal Bond Assurance Corporation (AMBAC) into a multi-billion dollar enterprise before selling it to Citibank in 1985.

Russ is also highly regarded for his success in rescuing Fitch Investors Service from insolvency, reinventing the company, and leaving it as a credible third player in the rating agency business. As Chairman and CEO, adhering to his strict credit and analytical standards, he succeeded in raising Fitch's profile to a point where it successfully competed against its larger peers.

Widely considered to be a maverick in the business world, he is perhaps best remembered and respected for his visionary leadership and high ethical standards. During his years in the industry he resisted the entry of financial guaranty insurers into the business of writing guarantees for structured financial products. Additionally, those who had the opportunity to work under his leadership knew a man who cared deeply about those who worked for him and was extremely generous in sharing the profits with his corporate family.

Before forming HRF Associates, where he served as President and CEO, Russ recognized the opportunity to serve the needs of an underserved segment of the industry and founded American Capital Access (ACA) serving as its Chairman and CEO. The company was the first 'A' rated financial guaranty company providing credit enhancement to issuers with little or no access to the capital markets. Under his leadership, the firm experienced significant growth and success, while maintaining an outstanding underwriting record.

While serving as President and CEO of AMBAC, the first financial guaranty insurance company, Russ was responsible for developing one of the earliest financial strength models for the industry to demonstrate the company's ability to withstand the stress of another Great Depression. This model became the industry standard and is used today by all major rating agencies to evaluate risk. In addition, he led the firm through its parent's bankruptcy and ultimately negotiated the sale of AMBAC to Citibank. And it was during this sale that Russ's true nature emerged when he insisted that every employee of AMBAC down to the mailroom receive an equity share of the company giving up a substantial portion of his own shares in the process.

Before being recruited to run AMBAC, Russ was Director of Fixed Income Research for Paine Webber and a member of its Board of Directors. Previously Russ had headed both the municipal and corporate debt ratings at Standard and Poor's where he developed the modern-day process for rating corporate bonds.

Russ received his degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Arizona. He has served on numerous boards and is the recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award from the Fixed Income Analysts Society.

Russ is survived by his dearly loved wife and most trusted business confidant, Patsy; daughter Amy; daughter Suzanne; son Christopher; and nine grandchildren.

Funeral services information will be announced shortly.

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