September 11, 1921 — March 10, 2011
My earliest memory is Grandaddy Frank putting on my shoes. The meticulous care he put into the task while he told me a story or sang me a song is the way he approached everything in life. He adjusted my socks just right so they would be comfortable in my little shoes. He didn’t put on my shoes quickly so he could move on to the next thing. Every time, he took the same care.
I spent many hours in Granddaddy Frank’s office at the motor company looking through the View-Master he kept on the shelf for me there….Paris, Greece, Austria, tropical islands, majestic mountains…calling me to explore.
I was with Grandaddy Frank on pretty much every important milestone in my life. When my baby brother was born. My first swim meet. Graduations. Horse show finals. September 11, 2001. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The day my grandmother died. And the weeks leading up to the end of his battle with leukemia.
He played football at UVA, defended his country on the beaches of Normandy, married the love of his life, and raised 4 children and 5 grandchildren.
He was an outdoor enthusiast, a runner, tennis player, pilot, avid hunter, savvy entrepreneur, horseman, and life of every party.
He regaled family and friends with stories, songs, riddles, jokes, push up contests, and would randomly put on his boxing shorts and gloves from high school. He had everyone convinced it was his arm on the Arm and Hammer logo. He was a lifelong learner, getting his pilot’s license in his late 60s and embracing technology so he could communicate with his family all over the world. He was a reader, writer, poet. When he walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, he recited Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in my ear.
At the end of his battle with leukemia, the hospice nurse asked him to name the president, the year, etc…which he rattled of easily. When she asked him how many children he had, he answered (without hesitation)…five. She looked confused, but he just looked across the room and winked at me.
He told me once in a lifetime opportunities only come up every so often….so always go get them.
He lived life with passion, kindness, deep compassion, love, and vigor. His family always came first. He was deeply committed to his many friends and his community. He treated everyone with kindness and respect, no matter their lot in life. He never went to an airport without a coat and tie or without bumping into someone he knew.
He was love and light. And, he would always remind us, “now go flourish.”