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Frawley honored by San Francisco mayor

John Frawley (left) was honored by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Feb. 28 for his work restoring and conserving the San Francisco Bay watershed. Frawley's parents, Chuck and Joyce, traveled from Red Wing to San Francisco for the ceremony.

John Frawley's love for the environment began while he was growing up in Red Wing.

"I did a lot of hunting and fishing. I really loved the outdoors," he said. "When I went to school, I looked for a career that would keep me outdoors."

Now, after working 16 years as president and CEO of San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay - currently a non-profit marine nature center, it seems as though Frawley has accomplished that goal.

Frawley was recognized for Feb. 28 by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association "for his ongoing effort in protecting, restoring and inspiring the conservation of San Francisco Bay, as well as the preservation of historic Fisherman's Wharf," a statement from Aquarium of the Bay spokeswoman Mallory Johnson said.

"I felt honored. It was a nice recognition and I really appreciate it," Frawley said in an interview with the R-E.

Frawley studied recreation, parks and leisure services at Minnesota State University. Then after working for a short while for the aquarium at the Mall of America, Frawley was hired by the Aquarium of the Bay.

In his time there, he has helped turn what was then a struggling commercial aquarium into a nonprofit marine nature center that is recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In 2008, the aquarium was the third-largest San Francisco attraction in 2008.

"It has really done well," Frawley said.

The aquarium merged with the Bay Institute -- an organization whose mission is to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay watershed -- in 2009 and became a nonprofit. At that time, Frawley took on the CEO and president roles for the Bay Institute as well.

"Frawley has since helped both organizations to tackle major challenges facing the environment," Johnson wrote.

Frawley has also previously served as president of the Fisherman's Wharf Merchant's Association and is a former board member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

But despite Frawley's deep ties to San Francisco, he said he still considers Minnesota and Red Wing his home.

"I like to think that I still live in both places," he said.

Much of Frawley's family still lives in Welch, and he comes back to Minnesota about a half-dozen times a year. He said Minnesota and San Francisco aren't as different as one might think.

"What's very similar is there's two large watersheds," he said. "The Mississippi watershed and the San Franciso bay watershed. It's all about protecting the rivers and streams."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.