[eDebate] Condolences

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Thu Jun 4 09:45:20 CDT 2009

Indeed, even though Frank hadn't been doing that well for a while, I'm overwhelmed with sadness.  Three memories:
1.  When we established a small tournament in memory of my late predecessor, John Jacobsohn, Frank insisted on attending, and he dragged his team from San Antonio to Morgantown to honor the memory of his friend.
2.  While Frank was so helpful to me as a new coach who had never debated, we quickly found that we were on opposite sides of virtually every issue facing the debate community.  Frank never let that interfere with our friendship.  Despite his very strong opinions, he always discussed these issues with respect and good humor.  And I remember one incredibly lengthy and contentious ADA Business meeting that Frank chaired.  After 10 hours, I realized that even though he held strong opinions on virtually every issue that had been discussed, it would have been impossible to determine from the meeting just what his opinions were.  He was scrupulously fair.
3.  Finally, a word about Frank's brief congressional career (a story that I tell in American Politics classes to illustrate the power of pork barrel representation).  Frank's long-time predecessor (not his immediate predecessor but the person who held the seat for decades) was much-beloved in the district, in large part due to his ability to secure federal funds (particularly after natural disasters).  He was so beloved that he continued to have electoral success even after federal prosecutors went after him (Gary Trudeau did a week's worth of Doonesbury strips on him).  When this gentleman (a conservative Democrat) had to leave office due to the scandal, his seat was captured by a Republican.  Frank (another conservative Democrat) then captured the seat in the next election.  During his single term in office, a major flood hit the district.  At the time of the flood, Frank was on a Congressional trip to South America and couldn't get back immediately due to travel difficulties.  His opponent in the upcoming election got great (and somewhat unfair) mileage out of contrasting Frank with the long-time congressman who was great at getting money for the district, and this helped to lead to the end of Congressman Harrison's brief career.  I knew the first part of the story (about the long-time congressman) from the historical record.  The second part of the story (about Frank and his defeat) came from a reliable source, Frank himself (and I heard him tell it multiple times).  And he always told the story with good humor.  He claimed he only objected to one thing about his opponent's characterization of Frank sitting at poolside in South America, sipping martinis while the district suffered from the flood.  "Everyone knew," Frank would protest, "that I only drank white wine."

I believe I'll raise a glass of Chardonay (however you spell that) in Frank's memory tonight.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Danielle Verney<mailto:daisy_verney at hotmail.com> 
  To: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 8:11 AM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] Condolences

  Upon hearing the news I was at a loss for words--and even still I am finding it difficult to express how sad I am.
  When I was an undergrad helping to manage the Cap Cities tournament, Frank nicknamed me The General (I must have a talent for barking orders).  Upon learning of my move to Navy, I got an email from Frank telling me that I was being "upgraded" to The Admiral.  
  I had quite literally no idea how to run a debate tournament my first year at Navy and I had very little assistance from the Academy as we were between Officer Reps and I wasn't even sure what to ask for from my department.  I called Frank, somewhat desperate, in December.  I got about two sentences in when he stopped me and said "Admiral, what can I do?"  Needless to say, his capable management skills and the respect given him by the entire community made the Navy tournament a success.  I honestly do not know what we will do without his wise counsel and assistance.  
  I think "what can I do?" summed up Frank's interaction with most of the debate community.  I have heard and am sure I will continue to hear many stories of him riding to the rescue of programs or people in need of assistance, in addition to his continual service to and support of the ADA.  
  To Trinity alums and debaters, and especially to Jarrod and Jamie, you have our condolences, and in the spirit of Frank, let us know what we can do.  
  To Frank--fair winds and following seas, as a true friend of Navy Debate.  You will be missed.
  Danielle Verney O'Gorman (aka Admiral Daisy)
  Navy Debate


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