Sherri Ronee’ Fraling, the longest-serving female mail carrier in Baltimore when she retired from the U.S. Postal Service, died of complications from an extended illness in her home in Westminster on July 1. She was 64.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Poplar Grove on Littleton Road as the fourth of seven children, she was the daughter of John H. Fraling, an MTA bus driver, and Earline N. Fraling, who worked for patch manufacturer Lion Brothers.
After graduating from Western High School in 1976, she joined the Postal Service in 1979 and remained a letter carrier until July 1, the day her retirement officially began. On the day she died, she was Baltimore’s senior female letter carrier, with a 43-year career in the Postal Service.
Called “Barbara Wawa” for her Barbara Walters-esque curiosity and doggedness, Ms. Fraling could be counted on to learn insider information and to share it with fellow mail carriers. “She always would keep us laughing,” said longtime friend and former co-worker Jean Williams.
Daughters Nakia Robinson-Williams and Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson said their mother had hoped to return to work, despite experiencing health problems for a year and a half before her death.
Ms. Fraling grew close with residents along her mail route and had a soft spot for infants and seniors, including the older residents at the Terrace Gardens Co-op, where she volunteered for years making meals. Black Girls Vote, the organization Ms. Robinson founded, hosted an event to feed the seniors there in her honor July 19.
Once, when Ms. Fraling was late returning from her route, colleagues knocked on the door of a home on Stricker Street to find her holding a baby in one arm and a mailbag in the other.
An active member of New Union Baptist Church, Ms. Fraling participated in a nightly phone prayer line beginning in April 2021, joined by Ms. Williams.
She kept the details of her illness private to shield her friends and family, her daughters said. ”She was very strong; no matter what blows came in life, she would withstand the test of whatever she had to go through, in her job or her personal life,” Ms. Williams said.
Her daughters said Ms. Fraling’s favorite song was New Birth’s “Wildflower,” in which lyrics describe a woman who faced the hardest times you could imagine” but was still a “flower growing wild.”
Gregarious and generous, Ms. Fraling made friends everywhere and kept others connected, never missing a loved one’s milestone, family members said. She “adopted” many children of no blood relation, including her younger colleagues and their kids.
“She was just larger than life,” said Kimberly Shorter, Ms. Williams’ daughter. “We just got a sense of her personality as little kids; this lady is going to be all over us.”
Mrs. Shorter remembered how years ago, Ms. Fraling came to the rescue when her family’s electricity and gas were shut off. Ms. Fraling told Ms. Williams to meet her near the family’s home with the bill. There would be no need to repay her, she told them, and the lights would be back on by the time they got home.
Her head for numbers astonished her family. “My mom would go to bingo and play 30 bingo cards with no chips,” her son, Lorenzo “Renny” Robinson, said. “One thing about my mom, she would never forget a number; she would never forget a birthday. She would remember your tag number from 1996 if she drove behind you two times.”
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Ms. Fraling loved dancing, sweet treats like sweet potato pie and singing karaoke. Mrs. Robinson-Williams said her mother’s phone contacts were filled with nicknames for her friends, including “Mr. President,” “First Class” or Ms. Williams’ moniker, “Mother-in-Law.”
Ms. Robinson said her mother was an avid fan of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and getting good bargains on clothes. She enjoyed playing the slot machines at Maryland Live! Casino, which she referred to as going to therapy or church, Ms. Williams said.
Although her health was failing, Ms. Fraling was still able to be a doula to her daughter Ms. Robinson when she delivered her son, Nyle, on June 7. Convinced her fourth grandchild would be female, Ms. Fraling filled the house with outfits for a girl and was prepared to help deliver the baby at home when Ms. Robinson went into labor.
When she was hospitalized during the week before her death, Ms. Fraling insisted Ms. Robinson deliver copies of her sister’s book to the hospital nurses.
“She was the perfect mother for us,” Mrs. Robinson-Williams said.
At a service on July 15 at Cornerstone Church of Christ, friends and family packed the church along with dozens of uniformed mail carriers to celebrate Ms. Fraling’s life. Former colleagues held a retirement party in her honor following the memorial.
In addition to her three children with her ex-husband, Nakia Robinson-Williams of Westminster, Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson of Baltimore and Lorenzo “Renny” Robinson of Baltimore, she is survived by siblings John H. Fraling Jr. of Baltimore, Earl Fraling of Jessup, Shernella Fraling of Baltimore and Andre “Tank” Fraling of Randallstown. Other survivors include four grandchildren, aunt Valerie Fraling, cousins Preston and Deartra Fleet and a host of friends.
For the record
A previous version of this article incorrectly reported where Sherri Ronee’ Fraling lived when she died and a dish that she enjoyed.