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Frank's Story

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Mr. Frank Marsden, Jr. of Manchester, born November 29, 1925, in New Bedford to Frank Marsden, Sr. and Mary Ellen Marsden (both deceased), passed away April 26, 2017, surrounded by family listening to the music he loved.
He was predeceased by his sister, Elizabeth Marsden Seckt. He leaves behind his loving wife of more than 54 years, Ann Grehlinger Marsden; his children, John and his wife, Shawny of Orlando, Fla., Rebecca of Manchester, Mass., Sarah and her husband, Michael Rodier of Manchester, Mass.; and his grandchildren, Stephanie, Sophia, and Audrey Marsden, and Max, Ella, Amelia, and Penelope Rodier.
As a youth in Fall River, he was a member of the Sassafras Gang, playing sand lot baseball and football and attending the Betsy B. Winslow Elementary School. Not having the funds to buy toys and such, he built his own kayak (nearly killing himself in the process from applying a toxic coating to the outside of the frame in the basement of his family’s house). He later used that kayak along with a radio he had built to enjoy the one channel he could get out on the water. During the toughest times in the Great Depression he helped support his family (his mother was a nurse, his dad an artist) by having a large paper route.
Growing up from such humble backgrounds, Frank enlisted to serve in World War II with the United States Navy just prior to turning 17. He told his family that he enlisted in the Navy (rather than being drafted) at the insistence of his father who had served in the Army during World War I. Portending much of his professional life to follow, his interest in radios and electronics as a youth (building his own radio as that technology was just developing), led to him being sent to the Navy’s electronics school.
He was posted to the just liberated Guam where he worked building and operating communication transmission systems for over two years until the end of the war. A resourceful fellow who was friends with a quartermaster (also from Fall River, Mass.), he always managed to have steaks to grill with his fellow squids. He told his family that he only used a gun in training camp, and then had it promptly taken away before he could hurt himself. Highlights include meeting Admiral Nimitz and helping to retransmit the Japanese surrender message to General McArthur.
Frank returned to the States and earned his electrical engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1950 under the GI bill – the first in his family to go to college. He was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity; he and many other fraternity brothers settled in Manchester, Mass.
His experience in the Navy coupled with his EE degree led to his first job post-college selling radar systems to the just liberated countries of Europe. His work took him all over the globe for thirty years, with installations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
While working for LFE and RCA he was involved in the burgeoning space program working on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. His designs included two of the radar systems on the Lunar Landing Module – including a system that helped Buzz Aldrin repair the damaged LLM so the astronauts could return to earth. After the space program he worked on radar systems for landing aircraft in bad weather for Raytheon.
Frank was a self-made handyman who maintained all of his own cars, boats, lawn equipment, built a P.A. System for his church, figured out handmade solutions to maintaining his home (including finishing the 2nd story of his home), and rescued his children whenever they did something really foolish. He was a photographer who took pictures of everything throughout his life (much to the sometimes annoyance of his family... “Just one more picture. Can’t you smile?!” Using his Leica and Nikon cameras, his slide collection eventually numbered in the multi-thousands. He was a collector of miniature trains and generally had a set going on an old ping-pong table in his cellar.
Frank was an avid sailor who maintained his own boat, taking trips with family and friends aboard his much beloved sailboat, Banjo, and his motorboat, Sanjore. Each boat he owned was named based on an anagram of his wife and kid’s names, although his family insisted he name the dingy for himself, the Frankly.
After his retirement, Marsden turned his attention to his two true passions: his family, and his impeccably maintained lawn (except for that incident when he over-fertilized the lawn). He also had a killer raspberry patch that he lovingly maintained through good and bad years. In nearly 30 years of retirement, he was surrounded by his loved ones, traveled extensively, and watched his grandchildren enter adulthood. You would often see him giving tractor rides to his grandkids.
He had stellar musical taste, introducing his family to artists like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, pop-songs from WWII (Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree), Bagpipe music, the soundtrack to “Kiss Me Kate," Helen Reddy, The Carpenters, countless silly songs that were of questionable origin, and the Beatles (after he found a broken cassette in downtown Boston and fixed it). He also had very good handwriting.
He was a very spiritual man of deep Christian faith who served as an elder in Sunday worship services in his home. When his health no longer allowed him to have services in his home, he continued his fellowship each week with his wife singing hymns together; his favorite was “Jesus The Very Thought Of Thee."
In his later years, he could be repeatedly heard telling folks how good a life he had had, and his luck in meeting his wife at church. He will be missed profoundly, no matter how complete a life he had the privilege of living.
In accordance with his wishes, there will not be a viewing or funeral. His celebration of life will be held at Tuck’s Point Chowder House, 17 Tuck’s Point Road, Manchester, on Friday, June 2, in the afternoon. Details to follow. Assisting the family with arrangements is the Peterson-O’Donnell Funeral Home, 167 Maple St. (Route 62), Danvers. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Frank's memory to Care Dimensions, (a not-for-profit hospice organization), 75 Sylvan St., Danvers, MA 01923. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit www.odonnellfuneralservice.com.
Published on  April 28, 2017
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