Cover photo for Frank Bartol's Obituary
Frank Bartol Profile Photo
1929 Frank 2015

Frank Bartol

December 15, 1929 — November 21, 2015


Frank R. Bartol died at his home in Traunik on November 21, 2015. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in late December of 2012, and after undergoing surgery in Ann Arbor, he continued treatment for it until switching to hospice care in May. He was born in Traunik, Michigan, on December 15th, 1929, and except for a couple of semesters when he was in college and the winter of 1949-50, when he worked in an office in Chicago, he spent his entire life in the U. P.

He was a graduate of Eben High School (now Superior Central) in 1946, at age l6, the youngest member of that class. After four years of work on the family poultry farm and in the woods and a sawmill owned by his uncle, he decided that wasn't where his future lay, so he began a college education which eventually included studies at Marquette University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, Western Michigan University, and NMU, receiving both his B.S. and M.A degrees from the last-named institution. He was, in fact, the first man to get a master's degree from NMU, having been beaten out for "first person to do so" honors by a woman named Anderson.

He couldn't complain too much about having been beaten out by one Anderson because it was at NMU that he had met another, named Judith, whom he married in 1953. Both pursued teaching careers, with Frank teaching high school English at Trenary, Iron River, and Ishpeming for eleven years before, in 1965, accepting a position at the university he had graduated from. For four years his main responsibility there was to teach future English teachers and to supervise their student teaching experiences. He returned to high school teaching in 1970 to teach English in Gladstone, retiring from there in 1985.

He dedicated the next decade to volunteer work, most notably for the Alger County Historical Society, editing its newsletter, Alger Footprints, for eleven years, serving as its president for two years, doing a winter-time weekly radio program called Alger Footnotes for several years on a Munising radio station, and co-coordinating with Lynn Nebel a major Historical Society project that transformed a vacant elementary school in Munising into the Alger County Heritage Center, the auditorium of which was named for him in recognition of his work. He also wrote chapters in two books published by the society. In 1994 he received the Charles Follo Award for his work in promoting U.P. history, and in 1997 he was cited by then-governor John Engler for his efforts. In 1988 Frank was appointed to the board of AMCAB, serving for five years, the last two as its chairman.

Between 1991 and 1997 he wrote weekly columns, first for the Mining Journal and later also for the Escanaba Daily Press. Three published collections of his essays resulted from his writing during that period. In 2007 he wrote a book entitled Still Sits the Schoolhouse by the Road, a memoir of his grade-school days in a two-room school, which was published by the Alger County Historical Society. And in 2009 the Traunik Slovenian Club published his book about the history of Traunik entitled To This Place They Came: the Traunik Story in Pictures. His last writing project was a novel, A Boy and His Chanticleer, which he had 150 copies of printed, mostly for friends and relatives.

Frank retired from his retirement writing career in 2012 and thereafter limited his community volunteer activities to managing the Traunik Slovenian Club, an organization he was instrumental in establishing in 1993. Its primary goal was, and continues to be, keeping some ethnic traditions alive in the community and re-establishing bonds between Traunik's ethnic Slovenians and their overseas relatives. To that end he visited Slovenia ten times since 1972 and sponsored visits of several of today's-generation relatives from that country to the United States. In 2001 he accepted an invitation from the Slovenian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the country's independence from Yugoslavia.

Recent activities which kept Frank occupied included the continued maintenance and improvement of the "home place," where he had been born and into which he and Judith moved in 2003. He did virtually all of the work himself on the renovation project to modernize and enlarge the old farmhouse that his father had built in 1929, a monumental enterprise, which he was very proud of. Following in the footsteps of his mother, he maintained a substantial garden every year. His featured a huge corn patch that much of the Traunik community got to sample when the crop was good and the raccoons didn't get there first. He loved everything about being "back home," and on this past Saturday he fulfilled his wish to die in the home he had been born in.
In addition to Judith, Frank is survived by two sons: Mark and Dan; two sisters: Margaret Newberry and Kathryn Galin; two grandsons: Isaac and Ethan; ten nieces and nephews; and many cousins here and in Slovenia. He was preceded in death in 1987 by his brother Don.

In keeping with his request, there will be no funeral service for him, but in 2012 he constructed a rough-cedar casket out of wood that he had cut from his woodlot, and on Saturday, November 28 from l:00 to 4:00 P.M. his body will lie in it in the Traunik hall, where friends and relatives are invited to come to offer their condolences to family members, to look over a display of photos and other items depicting his life, and to view the display of more than 100 photos on the walls of the hall featuring early Traunik days, which he had created for the Millenium celebration held there in July of 2000. A lunch will be served all afternoon in the hall's basement. Burial will be in the Trenary cemetery immediately following, weather permitting.

Frank asked that money saved as a result of his home-made casket project be divided between the Salvation Army and St. Vincent DePaul's in Marquette. He liked to tell anyone who'd listen to him that this money would do much more good there than it would if it were used to purchase something that would lie in the cemetery, unseen and of no use to anybody, for eternity. The Bowerman funeral home will manage the memorial, but flowers would look a bit out of place in the Traunik hall. The family suggests that individual memorial donations be made to the Alger County Historical Society, the Traunik Slovenian Club, St. Vincent DePaul, or the Salvation Army. The family has also requested that all are to dress casual.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frank Bartol, please visit our flower store.


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