Frank J. Bertram|
1921 - 2014
Passed peacefully on April 17th, at 93 years of age in Stockton, CA. Loving husband, father, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather he was preceded in passing by his wife of 68 years, Mary Glidden Bertram. He is survived by his daughters Kathleen (Jack) Stermer, Eileen (Mark) Kindelberger, and son Jim (Marcie) Bertram. Frank has 6 grandchildren, Kate (Todd) Gilliland, Megan (Jon) Townend, Dan (Sarah) Kindelberger, Allison Bertram, JP Bertram, Erinn Bertram and 4 great-grandchildren, Jackson, Kirby and Reilly Gilliland and Carly Townend.
Born in Patterson, New Jersey to Frank and May (Quigley) Bertram, Frank came west to San Francisco in 1930 graduating from Commerce High School in 1938. In 1942 he joined the Army Air Corp, married in October, and then shipped out for training as a B-24 Navigator. As a 1st Lieutenant he flew 19 missions over German occupied Europe with the 8th Air Force out of Tibenham, England. On September 27, 1944 he participated in the infamous Kassel Mission air battle where 30 B-24's and crews were lost. Frank's B-24 was one of the planes lost, but he and 10 of 12 crew survived by bailing out near Bad Hersfeld, Germany. Injured in his jump as his parachute ripped through trees, he was discovered a day later hiding near a creek by a group of German youths who pointed him out to local civilian authorities. After Frank was treated by a local doctor, questioned by local military authorities he was shipped out to spend the balance of the war in Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany. In 1986, he was contacted by one of the youths, Walter Hassenflug, who had found Frank 42 years earlier and, as an adult, was conducting extensive research on the Kassel Mission air battle. This started a series of correspondence and subsequent visits to Germany which eventually led to the formation of the Kassel Mission Memorial Association ( now KMHS) and a Memorial dedication near Ludwigsau, Germany to honor the American airmen (118) and German airmen (18) who perished that day. Through the Association, Frank became close friends with both his surviving American airmen as well as several of the surviving German fighter pilots. You can read Franks' incredible story at http://kasselmission.com//trueAccounts.html
After the war, he and Mary began their family in Redwood City, eventually settling in Stockton in 1950, raising their family until moving to their dream home in Woodbridge in 1980. In 2001, they moved to San Carlos for 5 years, before moving back to Stockton in 2006. Most of Frank's career was spent in the contract floor covering business where he met and worked with many fine friends who stayed in touch with him for all these years. Frank and Mary were fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout Europe, Hawaii and all over the US.
Frank was well known for his infectious sense of humor, remarkable memory and his incredible story telling ability. His uncanny timing for one-liners over the years continues to make us laugh today. A loyal SF Giants fan, he also loved the game of tennis, (playing well into his late 60's), golfing at Woodbridge Country Club and he cherished his time trout fishing in the Sierra's until eventually losing most all of his eyesight. Frank was a Big Band music enthusiast and though his eyesight was completely impaired in his later years, he enthusiastically devoured books on tape and maintained a terrific attitude as his world darkened. But most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family. Great Christmas gatherings at his home in Woodbridge will be remembered and treasured by all. We will miss our hero dearly.
He will join his late wife Mary with a private interment service at Golden Gate National Cemetery this Friday. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to either Kassel Mission Historical Society, C/O Robert Toupe. 4701 Park Ridge Dr. Racine, WI 53402 or Hospice of San Joaquin 3888 Pacific Ave, Stockton CA 95204.