William Frazer was born on 26 February 1917. After leaving school, he attended the Royal Technical College (RTC) in Glasgow from session 1932-1933 to session 1937-1938, qualifying for the Diploma in Engineering Science (Civil Engineering) with distinction, and also taking a BSc in Civil Engineering with first-class Honours from the University of Glasgow. At that time, students aiming for a degree in science or engineering could choose to take classes at both the University and the RTC, but were obliged to graduate from the University as the RTC lacked the power to award degrees. Frazer's academic career was then interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. He returned to the RTC on 1 June 1946, when he was appointed Lecturer in Civil Engineering. He also enrolled as a research student and qualified for the Associateship in Civil Engineering on 26 October that year before proceeding to doctoral studies. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer on 1 September 1947, and to Reader in Environmental Control Engineering on 1 September 1955. In the latter year, Frazer received his PhD from the University of Glasgow for a thesis on 'The Behaviour of Side Weirs in Prismatic Rectangular Channels'. On 1 September 1956, he was appointed to the Chair of Civil Engineering at the renamed Royal College of Science and Technology, which merged with the Scottish College of Commerce in 1963 to form the University of Strathclyde. Frazer remained Professor of Civil Engineering until his untimely death on 6 June 1968. He was an Associate Member of both the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His younger brother, Eric M. Frazer (born 1920), also studied Civil Engineering at the RTC.