How shall we remember Frank?
Written by his sons, David, Stephen and Michael
Shall we remember him digging his garden, turning the produce into delicious jams and chutneys? Shall we remember his sense of style – a cravat for every occasion? Days at the cricket in Worcester, binoculars and sandwiches to hand? In his workroom with his tools? Or, perhaps, reclined on his chaise longue, a whisky by his side and the concise crossword on his lap?
We will, of course, remember all of this. And much more.
Frank was born in North Yorkshire in 1925, but grew up in Loughborough, Leicestershire, attending the local grammar school. As a teenager he loved playing cricket and all things mechanical. He bought his first motorbike with a friend, but being too young to legally ride it, they pushed it home, freewheeling down the hills. The bike was later sold for half-a-crown and a pair of roller skates. Who got the coin and who the skates, we don’t know, though there is photographic evidence of Frank wearing roller skates.
At 18, he volunteered for the RAF, training to be a navigator and gunner. A highlight for Frank was training at Lord’s cricket ground, running up and down the Long Room. He saw active service towards the end of and just after the war, notably in Egypt and the Far East.
On his return, Frank enrolled at the Leicester School of Architecture. After qualifying as an architect, he worked for Leicestershire County Council. He met his wife, Beryl, on a blind date, set up by his sister Joan.
Now the proud owner of an MG sports car, Frank took Beryl as his navigator on rally races in the Leicestershire countryside. Despite this, she agreed to marry him! They were married in 1956 and made their home in Leicester, their three sons, David, Stephen and Michael, all being born there.
In 1966, Frank started a new job at IDC in Stratford and the family moved to Laureldene, here in Great Wolford, where all three children went to the village school. Frank designed buildings up and down the UK as well as in Europe during his 24 years at IDC.
Some of his more notable projects included Madley Satellite Station in Herefordshire, BT’s only operational UK satellite ground station; the UK headquarters for VW in Milton Keynes; and the main sorting office in Liverpool for Royal Mail, including an underground passage linking it to Lime Street railway station.
Frank retired in 1990, but kept busy, still doing occasional design work and always active in his garden and his workroom. He drove the Shipston Link community bus for many years. He loved his grandchildren and took a great interest in their lives. They enjoyed his company, often helping him in his garden.
He took care of Beryl in her later years and they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in January 2006, a few months before Beryl passed away.
Frank was extremely welcoming. He made his son’s partners feel they were part of the family as soon as they walked through the door. But, not just with family. Anyone coming to the house was given a warm welcome and a coffee. Or something stronger.
He was generous with his time and interest. His architect’s mind was always engaged when discussing plans his sons and partners had for their homes. And, he was always glad to offer his advice.
His garden was a huge passion and he was never happier than when showing people around. And, you would never go home without some of the produce – a bunch of freshly cut sweet peas, some seedlings, a bag of tomatoes or a handful of courgettes. If only he’d known how valuable they might become one day!
At the same time, he could find real pleasure in the simpler things in life, whether feeding the birds or treating his family to lunch in the pub.
Frank loved good food and cooked wonderful meals. Whenever his sons and their families visited, they could be sure of an excellent feast. His cousin Lucie would visit Frank at Great Wolford when passing through the area. After a couple of sandwich lunches, Frank insisted he would prepare a quick lunch on the next occasion. This turned out to be fresh salmon, home grown asparagus, home baked bread and homemade mayonnaise!
Keeping his independence was hugely important to Frank. He was driving right up to his recent illness and still very able and comfortable living in his home of 50 years. And, he was always pleased to be able to help friends by driving them to the shops or their appointments – but, hopefully not at the same speed that he used to drive the MG!
He retained a good quality of life, keeping fit and active. He had a quick and inquiring mind, staying alert to the end.
Frank was a caring and loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a thoughtful and generous friend, and a highly valued and respected colleague.
We shall all miss him.