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12/11/2013 5:52:00 PM
Frank Whitcomb Guernsey

Frank Whitcomb Guernsey died on August 17, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. He was 89. Frank was the second of two children along with his older sister Jean, born to Raymond and Katherine (Whitcomb) Guernsey on September 26, 1923 in Portland, Oregon. On August 9, 1952 Frank married Florence Ann (Zandecki) of Marys Corner, Washington. He was preceded in death by his wife, Florence, in 2003. Mrs. Guernsey died of complications of Alzheimer’s.

Growing up, Frank liked to hang around railroad yards and watch steam trains which would become a lifelong hobby of railroading and photographing trains. Sometimes he would “ride the rails” and pick up train order “flimsy” in the yards. Frank began his working career with the Southern Pacific Railroad, working on steam engines. He served in the US Army during World War II. He served in North Africa and Italy with the Texas 36 Infantry Division which landed at Salerno, Italy, on September 9, 1943. In January 1944 Frank was at the Rapido River Disaster in Italy and was also at the battle of Monte Cassino and witnessed the bombing of the 1400 year old Benedictine Abbey there. Frank received a Bronze Star and a Presidential Unit Citation during the war. He was discharged in 1945.

In 1946 Frank became a convert to the Catholic Church. He was a long-time member of St. Therese Parish. For a while he thought about becoming a Religious Order brother. He later worked on the kitchen crew at Providence Hospital and at the Monastery of the Precious Blood. Mr. Guernsey retired from the City of Portland in 1981 after 25 years working at the now closed St. Johns Landfill and at the Department of City Works. For many years Frank was the Church Sacristan for St. Therese Parish. In 1990 he was the Holy Name Man of the year for St. Therese Parish. For many years both Frank and his wife Florence would clean and prepare the votive candle rack and open and close the church for daily and Sunday Masses. Both Frank and his wife Florence were part of the Holy Rosary Radio committee, which helped raise funds and gain support to start the Catholic radio station, KBVM- 88.3, in the late 1980’s.

For almost 50 years Frank made rosaries and shipped them to missions all over the world. He enjoyed collecting and photographing railroads, especially steam trains. Some of his railroad photos appear in many railroad books and magazines. He was an honorary life member of the American Vecturist Association, which collects transporation tokens. Other hobbies were gardening and canning. Frank is survived by his three sons Paul, John and Philip, daughter Martha Guernsey, two grandchildren, Nicholas and Victoria and nephew Richard Fertig. Mass of Christian Burial was at St. Therese Catholic Church and burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Gresham, Oregon.

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