"Old age doesn't come by itself." That's a quote from my dad. He said it many times as he cared for his wife, Fannie, as she struggled to leave this world for her place in Heaven. For several years now it's a phrase that has run through my mind as I watched my dad in his own battle against Alzheimer's. In the early morning hours on February 21, 2014 his journey on Earth came to an end as he joined his bride in Paradise.
His story starts much like a child's fairytale, "Born a long time ago in a place far away…." A native of Slovenia he was the second oldest in a family of seven. As a young man, he told his father that he wanted to learn a trade. Carpentry was his interest and his father agreed to let his son leave the farm to pursue his passion. Tuition at the time - one fat pig annually to the master. It was money well spent as his training laid the foundation for the master craftsman he became.
After surviving a World War and a 4 year imprisonment in a Russian prison camp, he made the decision to leave the uncertainty of a recovering Europe and took his wife and baby across the ocean to America. Settling in Chicago, he started work on the second day in his new homeland and over the next 34 years used his talents to build furniture, cabinets, and any manner of thing made of wood. From the roof of the John Hancock Center to the display cases at Marshall Field's in downtown Chicago, he worked his magic turning simple pieces of wood into pieces of art.
Although he formally retired in 1986 he truly never stopped working and used his ability and talent to be the man on call for anyone who needed his help. From remodeling a relative's basement to fixing a neighbor's sink, he was the go to guy whenever and wherever. Never asking for payment, a thank you was always enough.
A lot has changed since May 30, 1919 when he was born. A horse and feet were how one got around. Water came from the well and the house got heated once someone lit a fire in the stove. He came from a time where one had to be creative, smart, tough, and compassionate to survive. He was a survivor. He never used a computer but if your door were broken you wouldn't use a computer to fix it. You'd call Frank.
Frank is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Ron and Kathy Perz; grandchildren, Brian (Kelly) Perz, Sarah Perz; brother Andrew (Gitta) Perz; sister-in-law Marie Widmer. European relatives include sisters, Erna Vorwalder, Sophie Hillepold, Freida Wakonig and many nieces and nephews both in Europe and here in the United States.
Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife, Fannie; parents, Magdalena and Andreas Perz; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Elizabeth and Andreas Kraschowetz; his sister ,Helen Bergman; brother, Eduard Perz; his brothers-in-law, Philip Bergman, Erich Widmer, Friedl Hillepold, Max Wakonig, and Rudy Vorwalder; and sister-in-law, Johanna Perz.
Dad was always one to care about others before himself. In order to spare loved ones and friends the difficulties of travel during this time of the year, a celebration of his life will be held around the 95th anniversary of his birth. It's the way he would want it to be. Blaney Funeral Home is assisting with the arrangements. Please send online condolences to www.BlaneyFuneralHome.com
Kathy and I would like to extend a sincere heartfelt thanks to the staff at Allouez Parkside Village where Dad lived since June, 2010. The love and care you provided for Dad these past four years provided comfort not only for him but also for our whole family. We also wish to extend our thanks to the nurses and social workers of Heartland Hospice who assisted Dad in the last few weeks of his life. You cleverly hide your wings under your scrubs but we can still tell you are angels.
We'll miss you Dad.