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Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Frank Jachim defined the meaning of a hard working family man. Devoted to those around him, he was also a loyal friend, and devout in his faith. A true blessing, Frank’s generous spirit and supportive nature was an inspiration and gift to those who loved and cared for him. A husband, father, grandfather, and dear friend with whom others could depend, he will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
The Roaring Twenties ushered in an entirely new way of thinking in the U.S. By 1921, jazz was all the rage, and prosperity and good fortune created a sense of exhilaration never before seen. Baseball was America’s favorite pastime, and the founding of the Chrysler Corporation brought the auto industry to new levels. Yet in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the lives of John and Regina (Wojtas) Jachim were forever changed on October 6, 1921 when they welcomed the birth of their little boy, Frank Joseph Jachim
The sixth of seven children in the Jachim household, with six sons and a daughter, it made for a bustling household indeed. Frank’s father owned a soda pop bottling company while his mother was a busy homemaker. When Frank was nine years old, his father sadly died and his mother began working at the Michigan Tag Company as the sole provider. It was especially difficult during the Great Depression as financial uncertainty created struggles for all.
Frank loved sports in his youth and he served as a great shortstop on Union High’s baseball team. A friend of many, everyone loved Frank’s outgoing and personable nature. One young girl did as well, and her name was Florence “Donnie” Kwiatkowski. Their lockers were next to each other and quite smitten from the start, Frank and Donnie soon became high school sweethearts. After graduating from Union High School in 1939, Frank went on to further his education at Davis Tech where he was enrolled in the two-year welding program. Throughout this time, he and Donnie’s romance blossomed.
At the height of World War II, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army in April of 1943, serving as a welder in bridge making. He fought alongside his comrades in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe, and the Battle of the Bulge before his honorable discharge in November of 1945. Thankful to have safely returned home to Donnie’s awaiting arms, the couple celebrated vows of marriage on May 25, 1946, at the Basilica of St. Adalbert. For their honeymoon, they enjoyed a memorable time staying at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
The newlyweds began their new lives together living with Frank's mother on Lake Michigan Drive. With no place to call their own there, it lacked an upstairs apartment, so Frank began building an apartment in the attic after work in the evenings. They soon started their family and after four years, Frank built his family their forever home at 448 Charlotte NW. Together they made a good, loving home for their three children, Patrick, Terry, and Jane. While Frank worked as a tool and die maker, Donnie was able to remain at home as a homemaker. He loved Donnie’s cooking, and she provided Frank with the delicious, traditional Polish meals he so loved such as glombki, pierogi, meatballs, and kluschiki, but kielbasa was always his favorite. He also loved her homemade pies. Frank’s sweet tooth also included hard candies, Werthers, and red licorice.
Having led by example, Frank was a loving yet strict father who served his children well. As a family they enjoyed treasured family vacations renting cottages on Big Star Lake and Wolf Lake, and they loved many camping adventures at Orchard Beach in Manistee and other state parks in the area. Frank and Donnie's travels also included destinations such as Florida, New Mexico, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, and Washington. One of Frank’s favorite pastimes was going up to “the shack” in Brethren, Michigan to the cabin he and his brothers built. They shared great times there, and they enjoyed a little trout fishing on the Manistee River while there, too.
A very social, outgoing couple, Frank and Donnie enjoyed many friendships, especially through their involvement at church. One of the founding members of Holy Spirit Parish, Frank was an integral part of the planning and building of the church in the late 1950s. His children each attended the church school, and along with one of his friends, Frank started baseball programs at the school where he even built the fields and served as a coach. Frank also sang in the Resurrection Choir and volunteered his time and talents at Westside Apostolate for many years.
For years, Frank and Donnie were members of a bowling league at Fairlanes, but Frank’s real passion was golfing. He mainly golfed at Gracewil Country Club, having attained six holes-in-one. He even set-up a net in his backyard to practice his swing hitting balls everyday, and he also had a small putting green in the house. Over the years he came to accumulate a huge collection of golf balls. When it came to sports, Frank liked watching U of M football as well as hockey and basketball. The sounds of big band music, the music of his youth, brought back wonderful memories for Frank.
It was clear to see that Frank and Donnie took pride in their home. Frank kept his lawn pristine while Donnie adorned it with flowers and garden areas. Frank especially liked to tinker around the house, and he could fix anything, including cars. After their children were grown, Frank and Donnie continued their love for travel. They went out west and continued camping, and wintering in a trailer in Leesburg, Florida for many years was a deviation from cold Michigan winters. While in Florida they made many friends, enjoying their time there immensely. Always an outgoing fellow, Frank could strike up a conversation with anyone and his generous and helpful ways were welcomed by all.
Frank exercised daily and liked riding his stationary bike. Always active, as the years came and went, Frank began slowing down and the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease were already beginning to show. This made it especially difficult on Frank and for his family when his beloved Donnie passed away on June 27, 2015. Over the last year, the disease continued to worsen and Frank’s health spiraled.
Frank Jachim was a wonderful provider to those entrusted to his care. His generous demeanor and helpful ways came natural for him, and his social nature provided long lasting friendships. A proud U.S. Veteran and a man of faith, Frank will be sorely missed, yet his legacy continues in the hearts of those he leaves behind.
Frank Jachim, aged 94, of Grand Rapids, peacefully passed away Friday, June 3, 2016. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Florence “Donnie”; and siblings, Walt (Helen) Jachim, Stan (Victoria) Jachim, Matt (Esther) Jachim, John (Harriet) Jachim, Joseph (Florence) Jachim, and Bernice (Joseph) Cichon. Frank is survived by his children, Patrick (Noralie) Jachim, Terry (Patti) Jachim, and Jane Larson; grandchildren, Paula (Brent) Garvin, Jennifer (Juan) Munoz, Jill Hiemstra, Tracy (Andy) VanSolkema; 10 great-grandchildren, Tyler, Aidan, and Ava Feuerstein, Ian and Mia Munoz, Riley, Brody and Nyla Garvin, Owen and Sawyer VanSolkema; many nieces, nephews and friends. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW on Monday, 6-8 PM. Contributions in Frank’s memory may be made to Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes. To read more about Frank’s life, to leave your own memory of him and to sign his online guest book, please visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com.