Remember When: Remembering a fallen Lion, Frank Smith

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 21, 2018

Lion Frank Smith, 94, passed away Sept. 10 at his home.

Frank was a charter member of the Columbus Lions Club, serving as its president and for several years as Tail Twister. The club made him a life member when he could no longer attend our meetings.

Frank was Tail Twister when I joined the Lions, and I saw right away that I had to somehow “get” him. At that time, the Lions was an all-male club, and the wives had dinner with us, but then moved to a table in the corner.

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One night, Frank came alone.

I had to ask, “Where’s Virginia?”

“I let her go to a meeting at church.”

“Well, Frank, if only one of you is coming to Lions, would you send Virginia?”

I came to love Virginia, and we shared bear hugs until she became too frail. She continued to come into my arms, but I only touched her back lightly to earn her big smile.

Frank’s undying love for her was manifest at their house: I don’t think that Frank ever slept in their bed again — the room was still just as she had left it when I visited Frank.

Later, we voted to allow women to be Lions as well. We lost only one Lion as a result, but we gained people who later served as our president. The club has accomplished a lot more since we became a family affair!

The late Chuck Trevathan as president led us to open Lions membership to our wives. Both his wife, Helen, and my wife, Fran, have served several terms as our president.

As Lion secretary, I made it a point to visit Frank periodically, and thus keep him in the loop. I asked the county commissioners to declare Frank Smith Day in Polk County, then assembled his family photos into a slideshow for the occasion. I think he enjoyed the notoriety as hosts of friends gathered to visit with him at his church.

My last public gift to Frank was to put him in my car and enter him in the Veterans Day Parade last year. I made signs identifying him as a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. I was pleased that he wanted the paper sign taken off carefully as a keepsake.

Frank ran unopposed to serve on some county board involved with cattle, so I called him the “bull commissioner.”

We took our little granddaughter to Frank’s farm to see some of his “cows.” He took a bucket of feed out to a fence, which lured a young bull to come over.

We cherish the photo of Kelsey enfolded in Frank’s arms, kneeling within reach of the huge head of the tame bull.

Frank and I were both country boys who milked cows, who served our country when needed, and our community as Lions. Frank always had a big glass of milk with his supper at Calvert’s. He also “always” left the meetings early to “care for his cows.”

We Lions have already been missing Frank. But we are thankful that we were able to “do right” by him as long as he lived.

He certainly “did right” by us, his community and his country.