Frank R. Grandel, 97
Beloved Teacher and Coach
Frank R. Grandel passed away peacefully on November 18th following a brief illness. He was 97 years old.
On October 6, 1921, Frank was born in the family home of Rosario and Concetta Trifiletti Grandel in Stony Creek. His parents came to America by way of Ellis Island in the late 1890’s as teenagers. They met in New Haven, married at Saint Michael Church on Wooster Square, and settled in Stony Creek. Frank’s father was a stone cutter in the Stony Creek Quarry, famous for its pink granite which provided the foundation for the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Grand Central Station.
The youngest of 11 children, Frank experienced a Tom Sawyer - like childhood in the Creek. It was a simpler time when cars were few and the trolley was the mode of transportation. Family, community, religion and education were the gold standard. In his youth, Frank played the drums with the renowned Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corps (est. 1886) and was their oldest alumnus.
A proud member of The Great Generation, Frank served in WWII, enlisting in the Army in 1942. He served in Intelligence within the Special Signal Forces, a group of 50 men who deciphered enemy code. They were stationed in Bexley, Kent, England and worked closely with the Bletchley Park group who broke German secret code, among which were the ENIGMA and LORENZ ciphers. Their Captain was Bill Bundy, son-in-law to Dean Acheson. He was later stationed in Russelsheim, Germany and was honorably discharged in 1946.
Frank attended the Stony Creek Grammar School, the Laurel Street Junior High School, and graduated from Branford High School in 1941, where he played four years on the Varsity Baseball team as 2nd baseman. He attended Arnold College (University of Bridgeport) on the GI Bill, receiving his BS in Physical Education and Counseling after only three years in 1949. He received his MA from NYU in 1951 and later earned a second MA and his 6th Year in Education Administration from UCONN.
For over 40 years, Frank was an institution in the Branford school system. In 1949, he became the Director of Physical Education for the Elementary Schools, a position he held for seven years. In 1956, Frank began coaching the Branford High School JV Basketball and Varsity Baseball teams and added JV Football to that list in 1957. That same year, Frank became the Assistant Supervisor of Elementary School Education. In 1958, he joined the faculty at Branford High School as a US History teacher, as well as the Director of Driver’s Education. He served as Assistant Principal for 12 years from 1977 until 1989. Frank retired from teaching in 1990 and was inducted into the Branford Education Hall of Fame in 2014. Frank taught and coached thousands of students over the course of his long tenure and touched many, many more.
Upon retiring from teaching, Frank joined Project More in New Haven, an agency focused on helping ex-offenders re-enter the work force. Frank worked under the direction of Warren Kimbro, a former Black Panther, and Frank and Warren became very close friends until Warren’s death in 2009. Frank retired after 20 years at the age of 92. He was dedicated to helping others until the very end of his life.
Frank was passionate about baseball. During the 1950’s, he managed a semi-pro baseball team called the Branford “Townies”, who were part of a 15-team league. They were a formidable team, winning their league championships on a regular basis and losing the New England Championships by a score of 1 - 0 to a RI team. To this day, the “Townies” are considered one of Branford’s best. Frank later became the President of the Shoreline Baseball League and in 1954 became a Scout for the Cleveland Indians, the same year they won the American League pennant. A true Yankees fan, Frank held season tickets between home plate and 1st base during the 1960’s and 1970’s, where he shared his love of the game with his daughters.
Frank is pre-deceased by his siblings and his wife of 52 years, Nancy A. Gillies Grandel. He is survived by his daughters Gayle “Gigi” Grandel Hayden, Mallie Massaro, Vickie Blake and Suzanne Griffin. He is also survived by his five grandchildren: Henry and James Hayden, Alecia and Anthony Massaro, and Griffin Leangle. He leaves behind his devoted pup,” LuLu”.
Frank will be missed for his warm, welcoming smile, his sparkling “Stony Creek granite” eyes, and his enormous generosity of spirit. An African proverb states that when we lose an old person, we lose a library. In Frank’s case, we lost volumes.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE to celebrate Frank’s life will be held on Saturday, January 5th at 10 a.m. at Saint Therese Church of St. John Bosco Parish in Branford.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Frank R. Grandel Scholarship Fund at Branford High School, 185 East Main Street, Branford, CT 06405, Att: Jean Brookman.
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