PETEK, Frank Edward The heart valve finally gave in. After double- digit marathons, three figure half marathons, and a proud streak of Bloomsday's, Frank Petek was called up to the majors. Frank Edward Petek was born January 2, 1951 in Spokane. He passed away on April 18, 2010. His passion was "running for health" and to motivateyoung adults to do so. In the early 70's Frank led a crusade for ORV parks in Spokane County; first at Liberty Lake, later at Nine Mile. The brand Bultaco became synonymous with his solely-owned dealership, Funky Frank's. Later he started a drive for the self-propelled sport of running. Sure, he was a long time fixture as the starter at Junior Bloomsday (now America's Kids Run). But his drive was to be a catalyst for young people to make fitness, particularly jogging, a part of their lives. Frank ran his first marathon in 1999. He averaged five a year from that point on. It was quite an accomplishment for a former two-pack-a-day smoker who kicked the habit. His accomplishments included marathons in Prague, Moscow, Ljubljana, Tokyo, Orlando, the Marine Corps Marathon, Rock n' Roll Marathons, Victoria, and his annual favorite, the City of Love San Francisco Marathon. Yes, Frank was a Janis Joplin, Hendrix-loving part of the flower power movement of the late 60's. He would always return from the July marathon with the "peace sign high" running through Haight-Ashbury. One of Frank's secret training pranks was the Lilac Bloomsday Run. In preparation for a summer marathon, he would run Bloomsday twice; the first time under his real name. Then, he'd grab a dry shirt that he stashed in the bushes near the Cathedral with a different runner number and complete the second loop as "Honky Petek." (Look in the Bloomsday finisher records..there's a Honky there!) Of precious value to Frank were friendships and acquaintances from running. He appreciated kind co-plodders like Mike Wakabayashi and the ever-present starter and finish line support of Curt Kinghorn. Frank was so proud of his Slovenian heritage. He made numerous trips to the former Yugoslav province. Lake Bled was his sacred place for a run. He had many friends and learned to speak the language fluently. A great pride was his adopted family, the Budkovic's; Tomaz, Mojca and their son Aljo, who Frank personally opened career doors of opportunity as an I/T specialist. Unlike many who reach the age of 50, content that they know most of what they need, Frank was constantly enrolled in classes. Regardless of employment, he believed in advancing his knowledge. He completed his college degree at Eastern Washington University School of Business and then went on for post graduate study in finance at Washington State University coupled with stock broker investment training and commercial real estate training, just shy of CCIM prior to his passing. Add to this learning both Russian and Slovenian languages. One of Frank's greatest joys was recent volunteer as an assistant coach for the North Central X-Country team. Whether it was the fastest runner or the 27th kid near the back of the pack, you could hear him yelling encouragement on the course. The past two years with North Central's prestigiousinvite to the Nike National High School X-Country Championships were some of the biggest moments in his life. Frank humbly encouraged success in others rather than his own, which was truly the signature of his life. Frank Edward Petek is survived by his sister Judy Camp (Phil) and brother Daniel Petek (Danita), along with numerous nephews and nieces and a legion of hopeful young runners who will ultimately bring a national x-country title to Spokane. What is unknown, but true a testimony to his soul is that all of Frank's marathons, running, education and training were in the face of a professed heart condition that ultimately took his life. Frank beat the odds for over a decade by running in the face of doctors who said he was short on days. A spirit always silently shared with Frank were the simple words, "You will not be measured by who you are, or what you are; but by what you accomplish in life." Most did not know him, public accolades were absent, yet, under the radar he accomplished much. He was my hero. At the expressed wish of Frank, a private family memorial will be held. In lieu of any flowers or condolences it is requested that donations be made in Frank's name to the North Central Boys X-Country Team, 1600 N Howard, Spokane, WA 99205.
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Published in Spokesman-Review from Apr. 22 to Apr. 26, 2010