Landscapes 09

Frank W Rzeszut

February 5, 1929 ~ October 2, 2021 (age 92)


Frank’s life began February 5, 1929, in Chicago, Illinos. He lived in Chicago and Wisconsin for most of his childhood until his family settled in Coloma, Michigan, where Frank graduated from high school.  After high school, Frank proudly served his country as a lieutenant in the United States Army.  Working as a drill instructor and teaching rifle marksmanship, he strove to be someone his men would look up to.  In 1955 he was working for Standard Oil Co. in Whiting, IN when a 26 story high fuel tank exploded and sent him running for his life, expecting the flames overhead to fall, catching him, at any moment. Spoiler: They didn’t. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, Frank was the first of his family to go to college, continuing his education at Western Michigan University, where he earned both a teaching degree and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology.  Frank worked at Ring Lardner Junior High School for 31 years, where he taught science and a few sections of basic math. He met Carolyn Schaus (then librarian at Ballard Junior High) while they were both playing on the staff bowling league.  Carolyn and Frank were married on July 31, 1976, and enjoyed 38 years together until Carolyn passed away in December 2014.  While teaching at Niles, Frank also ran the chess club and coached wrestling. He enjoyed teaching and giving back to the students. Frank was regularly readily approached by his former students who wanted to visit with him again. They’d laugh and joke like old friends- especially those he went “...round and round,” with. He’d often come home with the air of accomplishment a kid has after getting everything they asked for and then some at Christmas, always launching the stories the same: “I saw a former student today!”  When Frank wasn’t teaching he enjoyed fueling his children’s enthusiasm for their latest endeavors and interests, taking joy in all the personal interactions that happened along the way. Frank liked collecting things for the adventure, epitomizing the phrase “One man’s trash..” but the true value for him was meeting friends new and old and learning more about why the subject at hand was personally valuable to them, and so it was then to him.  Naturally athletic, Frank would be ‘drafted’ into new sports and activities by his brothers and peers. Later in life, he enjoyed helping his nieces, nephews, school kids and later his own learn what he had (sports, chess and Rorschach Tests), often* in a kinder and gentler manner. *Probably.  He enjoyed ice/roller skating, running, sailing (he sold his boat to an interested nephew for a dollar and a Pepsi when he married Carolyn- who had temporarily drowned as a child), fishing, swimming, dancing-- the latter especially with his wife and daughter and exercising- sometimes working out to duplicates of albums his (initially bewildered) son was into, “...because the shouting makes me angry and want to push myself.”  He also found time to enjoy the peacefulness of gardening, a throwback to the farm his dad had in Wisconsin, with now fond memories of the character working from sunup to sundown built within him so many years ago. He’d share a beer with a neighbor and together they’d “solve the world’s problems”, until the next time they needed solving (usually in a week or two). Even in his 90s, it was rare for Frank to sit still for long, though he greatly appreciated living in the country for the second half of his life. He loved the peace and quiet, reminding him to afford a moment to stop and contemplate the rolling fields and trees his front door opened out on, fading into the horizon as one season slowly changed into the next. The warmer the weather, the longer he might linger.


Frank enjoyed spending time with his grown children: his son Frank Michael Rzeszut, who was his caregiver the final seven years of his life, his daughter and son-in-law Laura and Russell Van Vlack, his granddaughter Joanna VanVlack, and many nieces and nephews.


Frank died peacefully at home Saturday, October 2, 2021 while rewatching one of his favorite movies with his dog and inseparable best friend Lucy, whom he picked as a puppy because, “she was the most inquisitive, playful and interested in life.” Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife Carolyn, his four older brothers: Hank, Stan, Ted, and Ed, and younger sister Helen Groszek, as well as his parents Frank and Harriet Rzeszut.  Frank’s life was celebrated with a private service and burial, with plans for an open gathering at an undetermined date In The Future.  He will be laid to rest in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Watervliet. Arrangements have been entrusted to Hutchins Funeral Home. You are invited to leave a message of comfort for Frank’s family.


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