tribute to Weldon B. Frantz
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
[to top of second column in
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,
[Paul E. Gleason, Logan