Francis V. Egeler
GWINN — Francis (Frank) V. Egeler, most recently of Gwinn, Mich., passed away on Sept. 5, 2020 at Upper Peninsula Health Systems, Marquette from complications from diabetes after a long struggle with the disease but, never with a complaint.
Frank was born in Bangor, Maine, on Dec. 28, 1963 to Frederick “Fred” and Barbara Frances (English) Egeler. After much relocating due to his father’s military service, Frank finally settled in Traverse City. He enrolled in Traverse City Area Catholic Schools where he became active in both curricular and extra-curricular activities, such as Model United Nations, theater, student council, and the Saint Francis radio station.
After graduating from Traverse City Saint Francis High School in 1982, Frank spent a year on the road with Young Americans as a light/sound operator before going on to study accounting at Northwestern Michigan College.
Following college, Frank held a number of jobs. However, it was in 1998 that he found his passion, working on his first political campaign. He helped get Jason Allen elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. That experience was the start of a 22-year career in Michigan Republican politics that saw Frank actively and strategically involved in changing the landscape of the electorate in Michigan, especially Northern Michigan. This included directing the campaign mechanics and strategy that led to Tom Casperson’s establishment-surprising election to the State House in 2002.
Frank’s infectious enthusiasm, gentle spirit, passion and persistence were the ingredients that allowed him to help many others realize their dreams to be elected to public office, including most recently Senator Ed McBroom in 2018, whom he continued to serve as the district director for the 38th Senate District until Frank’s passing.
While Frank did shine in the political world, he was also intensely private and preferred to let the shadow of success of those he helped elect veil the significance of his contribution. In fact, Frank’s character was defined by differing ends. On the one hand, Frank was fun-loving and playful. He loved to laugh, which led him to quickly make friends and easily and immediately relate to children (like his special friends Evelynn and Ella). Yet on the other hand, he was serious and thoughtful, commanding the respect and attention of candidates and elected officials from throughout Northern Michigan. They were truly the only elections that mattered to him, as was evidenced by his oft-repeated refrain, “if its below Clare, I don’t care.”
Similarly, Frank’s character, no matter the imposition, would see him give of himself and help a friend or colleague. He was willing to literally drive through the night if necessary. Yet Frank was fiercely independent, often preferring the sanctuary of home, and never wanting to impose his needs or complaints on others. And, while Frank’s character and personality were skilled at managing the complexities of successful campaigns, which also led him to be a natural mentor to many young political staffers, he admittedly struggled to simply stay in touch with those that cared for him, a trait consistent with being a committed bachelor.
Beyond politics Frank loved movies, music, and a good debate, often take a contrary position. He loved to camp, reminiscing and laughing around a campfire, and biking, especially across the area he came to love, the Upper Peninsula.
Frank is survived by three sisters, Lorraine Goff and Denise (David) Arbuckle, both of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Juli (Mike) VanPelt of Traverse City; 10 nieces and nephews; and many cousins. Frank was preceded in death by his parents, mother through marriage, Pennie Egeler, and brother Chris Egeler.
Consistent with Frank’s wishes, a formal visitation will not be held. However, there will be a gathering to honor Frank and share in the many memories he leaves behind in the hearts of those he touched in Escanaba from 1 p.m. (et) to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Hereford & Hops, a fitting location to celebrate his memory as it was where the Casperson campaign enjoyed watching election returns for the 2002 State House victory that Frank engineered. Additionally, there will be a gathering in June for family in Muskegon, Mich., and it is expected that a remembrance will be held by colleagues to honor his memory in Lansing in early November. Details of both those celebrations are yet to be finalized but will be posted to social media.
Memorial contributions in Frank’s name may be made to a county Republican Party chapter, the American Diabetes Association, or the FROST program at Northern Michigan University, where Frank desired his remains be entrusted to advance forensic research.