Early on Monday, September 14, 2020, Franklyn W. Menser of Brevard, NC and Sugarloaf Shores, FL died in his sleep at the age of 77.
Frank was born on April 24, 1943 in Paragould, AR. He grew up in Jonesboro, AR, El Paso, TX, and Las Cruces, NM (White Sands Missile Range) and graduated from high school in Chateauroux, France. He was raised in an army family and had a lifelong love for his country and respect for the military. He was a proud graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy Class of ’65, where he achieved the top rank of Battalion Commander and was a star running back for the football team. He received his MBA from Hofstra University in 1974.
In 1966 Frank met the love of his life, Betsy Maulsby, on a blind date arranged by her sister Cindy and her boyfriend, a friend of Frank’s from the Academy. They were married in 1968 and had just celebrated their 52nd anniversary in August. They were blessed with two daughters, Katy and Kelly, whom they raised in Acton, MA.
Frank’s professional life was devoted to shipping. He sailed with SeaLand Services as 2nd Mate, Chief Mate and finally Captain, after receiving his Master’s License in 1971. In 1972, he returned to the USMMA as a professor in the Nautical Sciences Department and then served as Assistant Commandant. In 1977 he was hired by Temple, Barker and Sloane, Inc. in Lexington, MA as a management consultant to the shipping industry.
Having daughters turned Frank into an ardent and outspoken feminist. As Assistant Commandant at the Merchant Marine Academy he was instrumental in admitting the first female cadets to the corps of midshipmen. At Temple, Barker and Sloane he hired their first-ever woman management consultant.
Frank was passionate about many things in life, especially fishing. Any kind of fishing, any time, anywhere. He loved fishing for bass on Moose Pond in Bridgton, ME where the family had a home, and later on Long Pond in Harwich, MA where they spent summers in retirement. He even let his Norwegian brother-in-law, Hans, talk him into ice fishing a few times. He traveled annually to New Zealand to fish for trout in the North Island rivers for over 20 years. He fished for sailfish in Guatemala. He reached one of his life goals by catching an 8-foot-long sturgeon in British Columbia. (Catch-and-release, as was always his practice.) On a trip to Belize in 1989, he discovered the mystical experience of fly fishing for tarpon and that changed the direction of his life. In 1993, at the age of 50, Frank retired and he and Betsy moved to Sugarloaf Shores in the Florida Keys where he could fly-fish for tarpon to his heart’s content.
Frank and Betsy loved to travel, and over the years they both visited all 50 states. He loved nothing more than sitting down surrounded by travel guides and maps and planning their next road trip. With their daughters they went SCUBA diving in Australia, Belize and Grand Cayman. They rafted and camped down the Grand Canyon for a week. For their 50th anniversary, they went on safari in Tanzania.
Frank was passionate about many other things, including playing tennis and cribbage, his juke boxes, hummingbirds, dogs, Westerns, the Weather Channel and growing tomatoes. His one plant this summer produced 83 gorgeous and delicious specimens! He was a voracious reader - he never went anywhere without his Kindle, which had almost 600 “read” books on it, and many unread waiting in the wings.
His greatest passion of all, though, was his family. He was a fiercely protective, adoring, proud, devoted and affectionate husband, father, uncle, brother and especially Grampy to his grandsons. In the spring of 2019, Frank and Betsy moved their summer residence to Brevard, NC to be closer to their daughters and grandsons. Frank’s happiest days in the last 8 years were spent building Legos, teaching the boys to ride bikes and roller skate, swimming and wrestling with them and letting them captain the pontoon boat around the lake. On the last night of his life, he whittled s’mores sticks for them, and those will always be cherished.
Frank was a big man - big in stature, in intellect and in heart. His generosity knew no bounds. He was unsparing with his time, his money and his advice. He was unfailingly willing to offer his expertise to anyone who asked for it. He gave generously to dozens of charities and causes. He embodied the traits he most admired and respected: integrity, humility, humor and patience, and he always rooted for the underdog.
Frank was predeceased by his mother, Levelva Tracer Walden and his father, Robert B. Walden. Left to cherish his memory are his devoted wife of 52 years, Betsy; beloved daughters, Katy Hughey and Kelly Wolf and her husband JR; grandsons Nigel, Harrison, and Henry; sister Bobbie Allen and her husband Jim; brother John Walden and his wife Dawn; sister Susan Walden; sister-in-law Cindy Ording; nephew Kristian Ording and his wife Tanya; nieces Kari Janapareddi and her husband Vijay, Sheri Byrd and her husband Corey, Cindy VanderWeide and her husband Paul, Amanda Grill and her husband Matthew, and Rachel Custer; aunt and uncle Wanda and Raymond Atwood; uncle Kenneth Walden; aunt Clarice Lovelace; several cousins including Peaches Giles and her husband Carl; several grandnieces, grandnephews, and innumerable treasured friends.
Per his wishes - and respecting the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic - there will be no services at this time. Frank’s wish was to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in the Marquesas Key Atoll, his hallowed fishing grounds off Key West, and we will honor that wish when the time is right.
If you wish to make a donation in Frank’s memory, please consider his favorite charity, the USMMA Alumni Association. You may donate online at: www.USMMAAlumni.com. If you choose to donate online, enter 1965 under “Class Year” on the first page of the donation form; on the 2nd page there is an opportunity to mark your gift in memory of Frank. You may also mail a gift to: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation, Inc., 300 Steamboat Road, Kings Point, NY 11024.
Frank loved playing host to any and all friends and family in his home, and we’ll close by offering his favorite toast on those occasions: Here’s loving you!