Frank Lane Myers was the neighborhood grandfather we all wish we had. He didn’t have kids of his own, and his nearest relatives were in Florida and Kansas City. So his family became his pets and his neighbors on Cleveland Street in the Hillcrest area on the Boise Bench.
He could help his neighbors with a car or pretty much anything else that needed advising or fixing. Frank had served as a paratrooper and driver in three stints in the Army. He spent 20 years with the Postal Service. He was widely read, loved music, fished, traveled, tinkered and invented and was a MENSA-certified genius.
“Everybody who met him couldn’t believe how intelligent he was, and how clear-minded,” said his longtime friend and neighbor Sandra Reimers.
“He took Spanish vocabulary flash cards with him to his assisted-living center,” said his friend and neighbor Myriame Fisse. “Who would do that other than Frank?”
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Most of all he loved his dogs and cats. “They were his family,” said Tamara Bennett, Sandra’s daughter.
“If you were a stray, you’d go to his house,” said Larry Crase, Frank’s nephew who lives in Kansas City, Mo. “His door was always open.”
Frank had lived alone since his wife, Hazel, died in 2003. He’d cared for her for nine years after her stroke. He’d been married once before, but was married to Hazel for 33 years and told friends she was the love of his life.
“I was really impressed with the way he treated her and showed so much love for her,” said Ray Roman, who’d worked as a live-in caregiver for Frank. “It really touched my heart deeply.”
When Frank could no longer live on his own in the past year, Myriame helped him find an assisted-living center and was the daughter he never had. They’d just gotten him settled in the veterans home when he was diagnosed with cancer and then was gone.
When Frank died July 18, Fisse and Reimers didn’t want him to leave this world without the world getting a chance to say thanks and goodbye.
So Fisse posted Frank’s obituary on the Boise Bench Dwellers Facebook page and urged people to come help remember Frank.
“He was so wonderful to us that I wanted people to be here for him,” she said.
Nearly 40 did on a sunny Friday, singing hymns and sharing memories of Frank, his animals and his big heart.
“I didn’t know how many people would come, but I just didn’t want it to be just us three,” said Fisse. “He just was so cool. He deserved a send-off, and I think it was perfect and he would have loved it.”
We lose friends and neighbors and veterans every day, sometimes without getting to hear about the remarkable lives of people who don’t seem remarkable to outsiders. But Frank’s friends on the Boise Bench were determined not to let that happen. I’m glad I got that reminder. I didn’t get to meet Frank, but I did get to meet his determined friends.
Sitting and reminiscing at the Friday service, what bubbled up were the random anecdotes and adventures of a long life. How his friends sort of competed to get Frank to their holiday dinners. How Frank loved long meals at the Chuck-A-Rama. He’d owned a sawmill. He’d served in Germany. He’d think of something for his yard and weld it into existence. He’d had a tough, hardscrabble youth, living on the road with his dad doing cowboy work in Canada, moving from job to job, with 5-year-old Frank responsible for fixing his own food.
“I think his humble beginnings made him appreciate everything — people, things,” Crase said. “He had so little but he gave so much.”
“In memory of Frank,” Reimers said, “we’re all going to go to Chuck-A-Rama. I think he’s at the table waiting.”
Bill Manny is the Statesman’s community engagement editor. Reach him at 208-377-6406. Email email@example.com; Twitter/Instagram: 208-377-6406, @whmanny.