The mourning buntings have once again been hung on the Fair Haven Firehouse. The marquee is a mere microcosm of the long story of a lifelong Fair Havenite’s service to his town and his passing.
“In Memory of Donny Frank … 58 Year Member,” it says.
Frank served Fair Haven in many ways. Not only was the U.S. Navy vet and RFH graduate a 58-year member of the Fair Haven Fire Department, he was the department’s First Aid captain in 1967, and founder of its Scuba Diving Squad.
He was also a police officer for 31 years, retiring with the rank of captain.
Mostly, Donny Frank was one of those Fair Haven guys who is remembered for always being there, always being seen around town — helping and protecting the town he loved and its people.
Those people remember him for that. They remember his face, his smile and his special off- and on-the-job demeanor. Many who were kids growing up in Fair Haven when he patrolled the streets of the borough recalled him vividly, with much love and respect.
Facebook was flooded with messages of sympathy from his peers and those “kids” when he passed on Jan. 23 at 79.
“Donny was the greatest of cops and people,” Nels Lybeck said. “He was always fair to all of us growing up. We might have been called morons for whatever we did but it was always followed by a big smile and ‘Now get home.’ A big loss to a very thankful town for his service. RIP Donny and God speed.
“Heaven just gained another angel,” said Andrew Choma. “RIP Donny.”
“Truly a great man!” David Struve said. “My prayers are with his family. Rest In Peace Captain Frank!”
“RIP, Mr. Frank,” Peter Mauger said. “Always a familiar face growing up in FH. Prayers for the family.”
“One of the last of the good guys!” said Paul Hubbard. “Thankful for his service!”
“You always brought a smile to my face anytime I saw you,” Jennifer Carduck said.
And so many more echoed the sentiment. It’s safe to say that Donny Frank is remembered with a collective sincere smile and thankfulness from a community for having the privilege of knowing a man they knew to always be there for them.
RIP, Donny Frank. You were a piece of my treasured childhood, as well, for which I am so grateful. I can still remember my dad speaking fondly of you and saying your name. I can see you driving past my house in the police car, waving as my dad watered the lawn and hollered “Hey, there, Donny! Take ‘er easy!” You were a youngster to him then. Thank you for your service. You are remembered. Oh, and take ‘er easy …
The remembrance will continue starting today, Friday, with memorial gathering from 4 to 8 p.m. at the John E. Day Funeral Home, Red Bank. A fireman’s service will be held toward the end of the memorial.
A celebration of Donny’s life will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Fair Haven Firehouse.
Donny Frank is survived by: his beloved wife of 55 years, Peggy; his daughter, Diane Rittman and husband Scott; his son, Bob Frank; brother-in-law, Bob Johnson; and his five grandchildren, Sarah, Jason, Joe, Molly and Anna.
He is predeceased by: his parents, Joseph and Sarah Frank; and his daughter, Jill Roberts (2014).
According to his obituary with John E. Day Funeral Home, “the family asks that, in lieu of flowers, you might consider a gift in Donny’s memory to the Fair Haven Fire Department, 645 River Road, Fair Haven, NJ 07704, or to the Fair Haven First Aid Squad, at the same address.”