Thursday, August 30, 2012
Mr. Frank full of love
Mr. Frank was down to earth – always in overalls.
I will never forget the first time I saw him at a sporting event when I came to Holly Springs 11 years ago.
He looked like one of the “good ol’ country boys” that I admired growing up on the farm in Alabama.
I found out later that Frank Swords, who died Sunday after a brief battle with cancer, was indeed a simple man but so much more.
He was a cheerful giver. He was an avid supporter. He was a cheerleader. And the list of good things goes on and on.
Most of all, I believe, Mr. Frank cared about his fellow man. And he particularly cared about all children.
My son Andy graduated in May from Marshall Academy. Mr. Frank and his wife, Mrs. Vicki, were two of his favorites and the feeling was reciprocated.
Before leaving for the University of Southern Mississippi a couple of weeks ago, Andy knew Mr. Frank was very sick. Sunday afternoon, his mom called to tell him Mr. Frank had died. It was not an easy conversation – for Pam or Andy.
Later he sent me an e-mail with his thoughts on Mr. Frank.
“Mr. Frank was the one fan that we, as players, always counted on being there. He loved the sports, but more importantly he loved every player as individuals.
“You could always hear him from the stands at any athletic event, yelling for every player to ‘hustle.”
“One halftime, Coach Dailey came into the locker room while we were losing a game that we should not have been losing. He simply said, “Listen to Mr. Frank.” He then told us that he didn’t just support us because he helped us financially but because he understood the game and understood us as players.
“All Mr. Frank wanted from us as players was to give everything we could every time we were on the field or court.
“He was a man anyone could lean on, but for the players he was our biggest fan. No one loved us while we were on the court as much as Mr. Frank and we knew that if no one else was watching, he was, so we had to ‘hustle’ for him.”
In addition to “hustle,” I specifically recall another of Mr. Frank’s encouraging shouts from the seats behind home plate at baseball games. To the players in the on-deck circle, he would always urge them to have “positive thoughts” before stepping into the batter’s box.
Coach Craig Dailey, in his eighth year at MA, has grown to know, love and appreciate Mr. Frank.
“Many people in this world are financially wealthy,” he said, “but none I have ever met used that wealth to touch more lives than Mr. Frank. And he did it without a thought for self recognition and with a caring heart that will not ever be equaled again.
“Frank was the wisest, most caring, and truest friend I have ever known. The good Lord just took home the best of us all.
“Our school and our community just lost a big piece of who we are.”
Former MA headmaster Jane Hubbard, another admirer of Mr. Frank, wrote, “Holly Springs, all of Marshall County and beyond lost a wonderful man. His kindness and generosity will never be forgotten.”
Mr. Frank indeed lived his legacy and his life was one filled with love.
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