"Congratulations to you on reaching such a milestone -- 70 years. Such a beautiful couple you are!" I had written to Frank and Virgie Weiss on June 22, 2015. "I always enjoy seeing you at Mass. And it warms my heart to watch you holding hands and praying the rosary together. God has blessed you with a beautiful family, and may He continue to bless you."
The occasion had been their 70th wedding anniversary, celebrated with family and friends at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Gilbert, where Virgie had taught religious education and Frank had been in the Knights of Columbus and was an expert on any electrical repairs that needed doing at the church.
The couple would have four more years together, and they would celebrate Frank's 100th birthday in 2018 with a fine party at St. Michael's where Virgie would reside until her death in 2019.
So it was, that on March 23, 2021, God would call Frank Weiss home. Frank had attained the age of 102 years, nine months. And he was sharp of mind to the end, a peaceful passage from his earthly life to his heavenly home. At the end of Frank's obituary notice was this heartfelt message: "We will miss you dearly, Dad."
Frank was born on June 16, 1918, in Elrosa, Stearns County, Minnesota, to Joseph and Emma (Marthaler) Weiss, the middle of three children. Frank was a self-taught electrician and lineman, a career that took him throughout the Midwest, including the main street lighting systems in Chisholm and Gilbert. He was a lineman for Erie Mining Company, retiring in 1980, and an electrician for the City of Gilbert, retiring in 1998.
His obituary read that Frank and Virginia Determan were married in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Following their marriage, the couple moved 11 times in 12 years. In 1952 they became Gilbert residents. Frank is remembered as a loving, dedicated husband, father, and a humble friend to anybody he met. He was a hardworking individual who would go out of his way to help wherever he could. He loved volunteering his endless time and talent for St. Joseph’s Church, working in his bountiful garden, cheering for the Minnesota Twins, enjoying his Sunday Coffee Royals after Mass, the Chmielewski Funtime Band, and Lawrence Welk, and Dairy Queen Cream de Menthe sundaes every Saturday night after delivering papers with his children. He was a grand marshal of the Gilbert 3rd of July parade. "He is an example of everything his children and grandchildren strive to be," the obituary read.
He was the father of six children, Stephan (Shirley) Weiss of Oregon, Robert (Janet) Weiss of Illinois, Kenneth (Patricia) Weiss of Indiana, James (Janice) Weiss of Brainerd, Kathy (Ken) Olson of International Falls and Thomas (Holly) Weiss of Pengilly, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Upon opening the newspaper Saturday, March 20, my breath caught in my throat upon seeing the notice of Frank's death. My brother's first words were of the upcoming baseball season, and of how Frank loved baseball, especially the Twins. After Sunday morning Mass, Frank would ask if I were going to watch the game that afternoon. "I'm going to quiz you next Sunday," he would say with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile.
Frank and Virgie would sit in the pew in front of me, and they'd turn around and offer greetings. Until he turned 99, Frank would drive them to Mass from their apartment in Broadview Manor. On the days when she wasn't able to attend, he would take home to her a communion host in a small precious metal container in a cloth bag, and each time I saw him do the ritual, I would think how devoted he was to his dear Virgie. That devotion was evident in so many things he did, like taking her to have her weekly hair appointment at Mary Bradach's beauty shop.
In an interview I once did with Frank, he attributed his long life and good health to his many years of hard work and his long and happy marriage to cooperation and communication. And that legacy was so evident at his funeral Mass -- all his family was there and so many of Frank's friends of all ages. A testiment to 102 years well-lived.
The last time I saw Frank was at church on All Souls Day 2019. The names of Virgie and others who had died that year would be read and candles lighted in their memory. Frank was looking good as always in his signature leather jacket.
Now this coming November Frank's name will be read. Farewell, my friend. A life well-lived indeed.