Roger Merrill vanFrank

October 13, 1924 ~ May 15, 2013
Roger Merrill vanFrank, Architect, born on October 13, 1924 in Newburgh, New York to Edna Ensign Merrill and Leslie Keats vanFrank, died on May 15, 2013 in Salt Lake City, with the love of his life and all six children there to help him off on another "Whynot Road" for the greatest adventure of all - to learn what lies beyond this earthly abode of ours. Should creative excitement be there, he is well prepared with an agile, happy, and inquiring mind. There is all of creation to redesign! With "Naturality" (the work of a human done in nature's way, which nature itself cannot achieve unaided) accomplished at last. "What marvelous fun," he has said, "to have the delightful opportunity of sitting down for an hour, a day, a week, or a month, should eternity, in reality, be available to us, and chatting with Plato, with Galileo, with Beethoven, and hear what really and truly mattered to them most when still on earth, and what matters most to them now. To sit again and reminisce with Frank Lloyd Wright, Mendel Glickman, Bruce Goff, and other friends and acquaintances. How marvelous to continue to learn, to explore, to experience the fullness of existence. How exciting!"
Roger and Sheila (nee Watkins), in love since junior high school, married in 1947, and have been inseparable for every one of the ensuing 66 years. Their children are Mereth (Sebastian Huemer, daughter Katie) Albany, New York; Kevin (Susan Tucker, children Brenna (Ben Yang) and Walter) Salt Lake City; Gweneth (John Carlson), children Clarissa (Mike Reep) and Jeanluc) Eugene, Oregon; Leslie (Jeff Silvestrini, children Liz and Jill) Salt Lake City; Alison (Stewart Owens), children S'Andrew (Heather Heustess), Ashleigh and Hank) Hendersonville, North Carolina; Megan (John Higgins) Salt Lake City. Roger's parents and his sister, Connie, predeceased him.
Roger served in World War II on the USS Enterprise in the Asia-Pacific Theatre of Operations, and earned 15 Stars on Combat Ribbons, AOM 2C USNR. He graduated in 1952 with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Architecture. Roger described his profession as "an innovative and creative national and international design practice focusing on one-of-a-kind solutions to problems of engineering, design planning and professional practice procedures." He originated the "Urban Village" concept, which utilizes just ten percent of land for building footprints in vast seas of land or water. In Roger's vision, sprawl and traffic congestion can be eliminated, and pollution and global warming vastly reduced. See
About life outside work (it never was "work"), Roger writes, "Many years ago, daughter Leslie came home from high school announcing her interest in a Rotary foreign exchange program to study and live overseas for a year. In assenting, we were unaware of the Gods up on Mount Olympus smiling benignly down on us and chortling over what this assent held in store for us. Oh what marvelous adventures lay down those many "Whynot Roads" that request and that reply put us upon. World travel, extended families of world class young people, exciting places, fabulous food, gorgeous scenery, unexpected magnificent buildings, and other artistic expressions, and wonderful, memorable friends from the inhabited continents of our world, as well as delightful acquaintances found all along the way. What a wonderful world is this 'mote of dust in a sunbeam!'"
Roger was sustained over the past eight years by more than 350 volunteers who selflessly donated blood to ARUP. Instead of flowers, we would be honored by similar donations, or by contributions to the Utah Symphony/Opera in his name. A reunion will be held later this year for extended family and friends.
Bon voyage, Oupasan. Prepare a place for us all to regale us with your memories of the delightful adventures and encounters yet ahead…. And DID!


Published in Salt Lake Tribune from May 18 to May 21, 2013