Friday, Dec. 24


Frantz remembered     Send a link to a friend

[DEC. 24, 2004]  Pete Frantz was remembered by the Logan County Board recently. Members of the Frantz family were invited for a brief ceremony and presentation of a certificate of appreciation at a work session. Board member and historian Paul Gleason read a tribute that was a brief overview of Frantz's contribution to our nation and as a true public servant for Logan County.

A tribute to Weldon B. Frantz

By Paul Gleason

The vigor and variety of workday America has become one of the prime factors in the development of our heritage. Within the confines of that heritage, a person will find real people working, and hoping as well as laughing and having their serious moments as well as doubts. Common people are the human resources that shape history.

Reflecting back upon the life of Pete Frantz, he was one of those people who became a resource for serving the citizens of Logan County. Pete was described in the Lincoln Daily News as a unique blend of likable and purposeful. He was a lifelong citizen of Logan County, and throughout his life he became one dedicated to community service as a volunteer as well as a public official. Regardless of the activity that Pete was involved in, he left a positive mark upon the lives of the people with whom he had contact.

In the field of education Pete served 12 years as a member of the District 27 Board of Education. During that period, history was made when the Washington School on Clinton Street was joined with Monroe School on Sherman Street and the new Washington-Monroe school change was erected on its current site. A second change was brought about when District 27 purchased the old high school on Broadway and converted it to a junior high school, and in 1960 the Lincoln Junior High School moved from the top floor of Central School to the old high school, after a new addition replaced the 1888 portion of the building.

A major part of Pete's life was spent in his bookkeeping services for people who depended upon him for their record-keeping service. Many of those clients were small business or individuals. He continued operating that service beyond his retirement from the Logan County Courthouse in 1994.

Within the halls of the courthouse Pete served as the Logan County treasurer from 1962 to 1966, after which he was elected and continued to be re-elected to the position of Logan county clerk and recorder until 1994. In the meantime Herman Dammerman was elected to the office of Logan County treasurer. Both Herman and Pete served their county with distinction, and very little controversy if any ever rose out of their offices. Both men were respected by the people they served. Pete was a Republican and Herman was a Democrat, but above all they were revered as public servants and in many cases ran for re-election with token or little opposition.

Pete was selected as the Lincoln Courier Man of the Month in September 1965. In the news report covering that event, Pete made reference to the fact that a person's religion and his politics are among the individual's badges of freedom we can still choose.

Ironically Pete Frantz passed away on Monday, May 24, 2004 -- shortly before the National World War II Memorial was to be dedicated five days later. Pete was a part of that memorial.

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It was on May 27, 1944, that his B-17 bomber Flying Fortress was shot down over southern France. He was the pilot of the plane. He and his crew glided the disabled plane down into the water of the Bay of Biscay -- 150 miles from any land. Within 60 seconds of the landing, the plane sunk, but his men had readied the inflatable rafts with a supply of rations. They were afloat nearly 10 hours when a German amphibian plane spotted them and dropped down, picked them up, and took them prisoners to Bordeaux and from there to solitary confinement for a week and a half in Frankfurt, where the Americans refused to talk.

Pete Frantz was transferred as a prisoner of war to Camp Barth, which was located north of Berlin and along the Baltic Sea. His enlisted buddies were sent to other camps. Frantz and his fellow prisoners of war were liberated by the Russian forces after the latter had entered that area May 1, 1945. Pete's next stop was Le Harve, France. The date of Dec. 31, 1945, marked the end of Pete's career in the military, after having served as one of the members of the "Greatest Generation."

One of the attributes of Pete Frantz was his ability to find time during his busy work day to listen to others. The coffeepot was always on as friends and courthouse personnel gathered around his table and talk and fellowship. Many recall the visits of Larry Shroyer to the county clerk's office. Between the two, both Pete and Larry could reveal the stories of the county's past -- especially those involving the city of Lincoln. Pete gave or offered guidance to newly elected county board members if they listened to him, but he always left them choices. He loved the Logan County Courthouse and always sought to keep its interior plain and simple and free from clutter that would resemble an antique store. He was proud of some of the records of the past that were found in the vault in his office.

When Pete left his office in December 1994, the office of county clerk and recorder was still operating during the time when life in that office was busy, but not necessarily hectic except during the week of elections. Gone were the paper ballots, which were replaced by the punch card voting machines, which gave us the dangling chads. Now and then we had a chad on a ballot but paid little attention to it and just removed it. Upon the shoulders of his successor, Sally Litterly, fell the task of meeting rules and laws forced upon that office by state and federal regulations. The world of simple was gone. So was punch card voting, which was replaced by scanning machines in 2004.

Pete Frantz was a product of the "Heartland of America." He was born in Iowa in 1916, and while he was still a baby his family brought him to the Atlanta-Eminence communities. There he was educated and graduated from high school. He never forgot his roots and throughout his years of public service often made reference to growing up in the Atlanta area. Throughout his years of public service he believed that the basis of our government was the opinion of the people. He never had any doubts about the future. After the election of 1994 Pete had witnessed the torch of his office and leadership being passed on to a new generation of officeholders, and another administration began in the office of the Logan County clerk and recorder, so firmly established by one who truly believed in public service -- Pete Frantz, 1916-2004.

[Paul E. Gleason, Logan County historian]

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