Frank Berres

ESCANABA — God must have needed a crowd motivator awfully bad; Frank Berres, 85, passed away on Friday, June 5, 2020. He will now be leading cheers in Heaven’s stadium. He was surrounded by his wife and loving family.

Frank was born in Lakeville, Minn., and grew up in LeSueur, Minn., home of the Jolly Green Giant. He graduated from LeSueur High School in 1953 and entered St. John’s College (MN). After three years of college, he joined the Army and was stationed in Alaska. This is where he met the love of his life, Jean DeGrand. After his tour of duty in the Army, he returned to college and graduated with a degree in social work from Mankato State (MN). Frank was extremely proud of his Minnesota heritage. If you wanted to know anything about Minnesota, you went to Frank.

On Nov. 28, 1959, Frank and Jean were married. After a few years living in Minnesota, they moved to Escanaba with their five young children in 1970. Frank was quick to become a pillar of the community. He helped start the local softball league which grew to 50 teams at one time. He also bowled in three leagues for several years.

In 1973, he joined the Escanaba Elks Lodge 354. To say he was an active member would be a major understatement. He moved through all of the chairs and became Exalted Ruler in 1989. He later was a District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. He served as secretary for a number of years as well as being committee chairman for several committees up until shortly before his death. He won several awards including Lodge Elk of the Year; Officer of the Year and the Sit on it Award. He was the State Elk of the Year recipient in 2002-2003 and served as State Tiler under State President Robert Ivey (Iron River Lodge) and State Chaplain under State President Tom Bianco (Ishpeming Lodge). He attended 16 national conventions and countless state and U.P. conventions. He was an integral contributor to the Escanaba Lodge becoming an All-American Lodge.

In 1979, he returned to the passion he was most known for “crowd motivator.” The Eskymo football team made the playoffs for the first time ever. Frank and his iconic “Gimme an E” cheer motivated the team to reach the Class A State Finals that year. His crowd motivating for Escanaba athletics and American Legion Baseball lasted for 40 years. He followed all sports but his presence was most visible at Esky football, basketball and girls’ softball games. He was awarded Escanaba Fan Club “Fan of the Year” and the Escanaba Quarterback Club “Wall of Fame”.

His crowd motivation started back in 1954 when he was at St. John’s College in Minnesota. His nickname at the time was “Ratso” and while getting the crowd going at basketball games, they named the area he sat in “the Rat Section.” To this day, the Rat Section lives on at St. John’s, and Frank is the well-known Original Rat. In the mid-1990s, Sports Illustrated named the Rat Section “The zaniest Cheering Section in all College Sports.” Frank and Jean followed the Johnnie’s football team for several years, often getting VIP treatment.

Frank worked as a social worker for the state of Michigan for 25 years. After retirement in 1992, he worked for Quest Diagnostic.

Survivors include his wife, Jean Berres; son, John (Michele) Berres of Lansing, Mich.; daughters, Susie (Brian) Beckon and Margie Gregoire (Marc Pillon) of Escanaba; daughter, Karen (Mark) Platt of Shawnee, Kan.; daughter-in-law, Katie (Joe) Brewer-Berres-Boychuck; grandchildren: Sofie Brewer-Berres, Michael Marie Brewer-Berres, Peter Brewer-Berres-Boychuck, Kyle Berres, Kerry Berres, Darby Beckon, Jacob Beckon, Stephanie Gregoire (Sarah Zegree), Erin Gregoire, Shelby Gregoire (Hayden Hardwick), Elise (Kyle) Whaley, Ross (Abby) Platt and Amanda Platt; three great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Barbara Berres; DeGrand family in-laws: Tookie Scott, Vicki DeGaynor, RJ and Val DeGrand, Dan and Kathy DeGrand, Julie and Bob Gasparick, Patti and Dave Benetti, Jim and Nancy DeGrand, John and Judi DeGrand, and Paul DeGrand; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to his parents, Frank and Isabelle (McMahon) Berres, he was preceded in death by brother, Patrick Berres; sister, Maire McMahon; son, Michael T. Berres; brothers-in law Patrick DeGaynor, Don (Scotty) Scott and Tom DeGrand; and nieces Barbie Dahlvik and Gina Benetti.

Visitation will be on Wednesday, June 10, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Crawford Funeral Homes, 302 S. 13th St. Escanaba. Friends are encouraged to wear orange and black or Eskymo attire. To comply with the current regulations, please enter the funeral home using the north entrance on 2nd Avenue and exit using the east (front) door of the building. A private Elks memorial service will take place for the family. A Mass of Christian Burial for friends and family will follow on Thursday, June 11, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church with Rev. Timothy Ferguson officiating. Graveside services and military rites will be at Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family and a scholarship will be established in Frank’s name at a later date.

A message of condolence may be directed to the family at crawfordfuneralhomes.net.