Born Franklin Bondroff, Frank came into this world on July 15, 1934, the first child of Helen and Sam Bondroff.
On the night of his birth, an event unfolded that would foreshadow the ongoing deep love shared and freely exchanged within Frank's large, close-knit family. After a frantic search for a donor with the requisite blood type, the newborn's pugilist Uncle Marty postponed his scheduled professional boxing match and provided Frank's mother Helen his blood in a life-saving transfusion.
One of Frank's many talents was his business acumen. His long-time friend of 73 years, Don Frame, recalls one of the duo's early ventures. As children, Frank and Don made lawn ornaments - wooden posts with house numbers - driven by visions of fabulous success. Frank later described the endeavor as one that had great money-making potential, but it taught him that door-to-door sales left much to be desired.
His first full-time job was working for a vending machine supplier that serviced all of "The Block's" clubs in Baltimore City. Frank found the sport of boxing much more exciting, naturally, than filling vending machines.
Boxing championships at Baltimore City College earned him seven scholarships, but Frank had no time for college. He discovered a gym with barbells and dumbbells, joined, and started lifting weights. It wasn't long before he turned his boxing and weightlifting talents into a life-long passion for health, fitness, and the pursuit of happiness.
Frank launched U.S. Health, Inc. in 1959, long before fitness became a worldwide fad. He gradually expanded his business into a chain of 40 health and fitness clubs with interests in about 60 additional health and fitness operations.
A four-time Chair of the National Fitness Industry Association, Frank was inducted into the Club Industry Hall of Fame, recognizing his many pioneering achievements. His was the first publicly-traded, multi-state health and fitness chain. Frank initiated the industry's first bond offering, received the only U.S. Patent for Fitness and Health Club Design, and earned numerous awards for marketing and design, including the coveted Effie Gold Award.
When Frank sold his company to Bally's Health & Fitness in 1988, U.S. Health employed over 2,500 people and owned and/or operated over 120 health clubs. To this day, U.S. Health remains the only publicly-traded fitness chain to have operated profitably every year since going public.
Always aiming to diversify, after exiting the world of fitness, Frank formed The Foundation Group, transforming his talents for creating ultimate fitness experiences into the development of ultimate lifestyle communities. His very first real estate venture, the 400-unit English Country Manor, became the most awarded residential community in Maryland, earning "The Nation's Most Outstanding Community" award.
Regardless of what he focused on, his work ethic, drive and vision commanded respect and admiration. From winning the Discus Trophy at the Senior Olympics to creating unforgettable parties and live experiences to entertain, surprise, and delight his large and extended loving family, Frank simply didn't believe in going half in. Ever. One of his life philosophies was to "always be in a state of transcendence" in everything he did.
Well-read and deeply principled, Frank devoted tireless energy and resources to promoting the philosophy of Objectivism and to the libertarian movement. Frank was a generous philanthropist to institutions and individuals.
Frank was also a lover of live music with a special fondness for jazz, and he was known to those who knew him best as a master of the grand gesture (from surprise cars to surprise weddings) - "a wielder of wow"!
Yet, as much as he loved thinking big, Frank loved helping those close to him expand their minds. At the dinner table, over Vito's delicate pasta or a finely prepared all-beef hotdog with bologna from Lenny's, the conversations were sure to be provocative with Frank's "topic of the evening", almost always ending with laughter, joy and kisses from Frank. Frank truly did it his way.
Frank Bond died at home on July 26, surrounded and serenaded by friends and family.
Frank is survived by his loving wife Arlene Bond, sister Sharon Bondroff (Steve Bunker), son Brandon (and partner Katie Zammiello) Bond, son Baron (and wife Mayrav) Bond, four magnificent grandchildren - Anthem, Aris, Revel, and Braxton - and a whole lot of special friends, mentees, cousins, nieces and nephews. Frank was preceded in death by his former wife Marlene Bond and his wife Shelda Bond.
Services are private. Please omit flowers. Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington, DC 20001-5403.
Published in Baltimore Sun from Jul. 29 to Jul. 31, 2020.