Thursday, January 12, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
120 South Woodhams Street
Plainwell, MI 49080
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Frank was born to Boleslaw Robert Cerbin and his wife Nellie Angeline Zmuda on July 29, 1924 in the home of his grandparents, Adam and Anna (Bernas) Zmuda, in Calumet City, Cook County, Ill. He was baptized on August 10, 1924 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Calumet City, Ill.
Frank grew up in Chicago, and had a wonderful memory going back to his very early years. He loved telling stories about all the different things he experienced back then from the gifts he received for Christmas, to trouble he got into, fights with bullies, the day it rained fish, and the time their apartment was almost broken into when the men were outside the door and his dad and him were ready to fight them off.
He had memories of his Grandfather and Grandmother Peter (Piotr) and Maryanna (Koczorowska) Cerbin and Grandfather and Grandmother Adam and Anna (Bernas) Zmuda, and his many Aunts and Uncles and cousins. He loved to tell the tales of the prohibition years and how there were gangsters, bootleggers, racketeers, shootings, robberies, and police raids in the near by buildings he could see from their apartment window.
He could remember listening to the radio during the inauguration of President Roosevelt on March 4, 1933, and his “fireside chats”. His parents would give him a nickel to see a show and buy a candy bar. His family had really hard times during the Depression putting food on the table. Frank would go out hunting for rabbits and squirrels for food.
The family moved around alot and Frank attended several different grade schools, including St. Roman’s Catholic School, and Blessed Agnes Catholic School. He attended Harrison High School in 9th grade and then changed to Calumet High School from which he graduated in January 1943.
WWII was just underway, and he wanted to better himself, so he would be put into a better position if drafted. So he signed up for classes at Century College of Medical Technology in Chicago with courses in Medical X-ray and Laboratory Technology graduating in June 1943.
Frank was drafted in June 1943, and went into active duty on June 21, 1943. His basic training was at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, where he was ranked Private First Class because of his training in X-ray and laboratory work. They placed him in the Medical Corps, and sent him to Camp Barkley in Abilene, Texas, then on to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, then to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, then to St. Louis, Missouri to a Medical Technical School for even more training in troubleshooting all kinds of medical, electrical, and mechanical machines. He was then sent to Petersburg, Virginia and placed in the 117th General Hospital and put in a staging area to go overseas.
On June 22, 1944 he set sail on the SS Pasteur heading for Liverpool, England from there he was put on a train for Llandudno, North Wales, and after a few weeks sent to his final destination at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England. The Americans took over the hospital and it was called 117th U.S. General Hospital, they built over 30 separate buildings they called wards to care for the wounded men coming from battle. When Frank got there the Normandy Invasion had just happened and the hospital was over loaded with the wounded men. His job was to keep all the medical, electrical, and mechanical equipment running properly. His biggest job was keeping the X-ray machines and refrigerators going in the many wards. He could tell you stories all day about his experiences there.
When the war was over, he set sail on August 6, 1945, heading for New York on the Queen Elizabeth. His rank was Technician Fifth Grade. America dropped the Atomic Bomb on Japan while he was on the ship, so the Army didn’t want to discharge him when he got to New York, thinking they might need him if there was another war. The Army sent him to several different Hospitals as an X-ray technician. Frank was finally discharged on April 14, 1946.
Frank went home to his parents’ house to live in Evergreen Park, Illinois. He took on many different jobs, working in the X-ray divisions, and as a power board wireman, and in the Electrical field. He became a member of the IBEW local #713, in January 1948.
Frank met the “love of his life” at a dance one night at the Trianon Ballroom. He loved telling about that night they danced together, when he heard bells go off in his head, the moment he met her. They married on July 31, 1948, at St. Bernadettes Catholic Church, in Evergreen Park, Illinois. For their honeymoon they took a train out to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and from there a bus to Green Mountain Falls, where they stayed for three weeks. They loved it there so much that when they got back to their jobs in Chicago and couldn’t get financing for a home, they packed up and moved to Englewood, Colorado. They had a hard time finding permanent work there so had to move back to Chicago for a while. They both missed Colorado so much they finally went back to Englewood in July 1950.
Their first child, Mary Louise was born there in Denver. Frank had a good job at Public Service Company at the time and their life was very happy. But in 1952 he lost his job and they had to move to Omaha, Nebraska where he was able to get a job with the Union Pacific Rail Road working on diesel engines. It was a very dirty job, so he signed up with the IBEW in Omaha looking for electrical work. In 1953, he took a high paying job in Greenland, at the Thule Air Base working on the under ground hangers. Frank loved to tell the many stories about his adventures there, including how the plane ran out of gas and almost went down in the ocean on the way there. The men on the plane had to push all the luggage and cargo out the back of the plane in order to make it.
Frank returned from Greenland in Sept. 1953, and their second child, Paul Jeffrey was born there in Omaha there a few months later. Frank loved to tell the story about how the electric went off in the hospital just when Rena was about to deliver Paul. He came to the rescue, when he asked to see the electric room, and was able to get the lights back up and running again.
In Oct. 1954, they again moved back to Englewood, Colorado and Frank went to work as an electrician with IBEW Local 68, in Denver. In March 1955 they bought their first home at 2692 South Meade St. Denver, Colorado. It was a newly built home which provided a happy comfortable place to raise Mary and Paul. Frank was able to purchase some land in Cold Creek Canyon, and the family loved going up there to explore the woods and have cookouts. Every year they would bring home the family Christmas tree. Many happy memories were made while they lived there.
It was during this time that work was getting harder and harder to find, so Frank had to travel to work on the different missile bases in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nevada. It was hard being away from the family for such long periods of time, so they sold the house in 1965, and the whole family moved East to the Chesterton, Indiana area where Frank found work at Bethlehem Steel Company, the family spent the summer in a rented trailer. Towards the end of the summer the family continued their move to Cooper, Michigan, where they could be closer to Frank’s parents and sisters families who lived in Allegan. They joined St. Margaret’s Church in Otsego, where they are still members. Frank found that work in the Kalamazoo area was very plentiful, and signed up with IBEW Local 131. In June 1966, they bought a home at 680 Benhoy St. in Plainwell. This is where they raised their family, worked, had many happy family gatherings and later retired. Frank suffered a stroke in 2000, but was able to recover quite well.
They wanted to enjoy their retirement years so they sold their home in Plainwell in October 2004, and bought a home in a retirement community called “The Villages” in Lady Lake, Florida. They made a lot of new friends there, and had a lot of fun in their retirement years. They became involved in the many activities they had there. But they missed being away from their family, so in 2006, they sold the house in Florida and moved to a condominium in Christianburg, Virginia to be close to their daughter Mary.
Mary eventually moved to Kalamazoo, and they followed buying a condominium in Parkview Hills. They enjoyed life there, but on Sept. 6, 2016, they moved into the brand new Vicinia Gardens Assisted Living, in Otsego, Michigan. They were the first residents there and felt like they were back home to the Plainwell area.
He leaves behind the “love of his life” his wife of 68 years Rena Mae Cerbin. His two children Mary Anderson and her husband Bill Knapper, and son Paul and his wife Jan; four grandchildren, Jason Cerbin and his wife Cristina, Kristine and her husband Chris Douglass, Jeanette and her husband Andy Hollander, and Lindsey and her husband William Nordloh; six great grandchildren, Michael and Lana Cerbin, Riley Douglass, Lindsey Hollander, and Clare and Connor Nordloh. He is survived by his two sisters Rose Marie Carlisi of Three Rivers, and Glory Ann Gavrun and her husband Andrew, of Allegan and many nieces and nephews and friends.
Frank had always shown dedication to his family at every step of his life, always offering encouragement, concern and love for each one of them.
He showed his faith and devotion in his daily life and by example instilled his faith in his family. Frank had a life long commitment to the Catholic Church, he actively attended church and was a member of the Knights of Columbus activities, including building the new church rectory, hanging the new bells, helping with bingo, and charity work.
He had a great memory going back to his early childhood years, and was always ready to share his stories to anyone who would listen; he had hundreds of them. He had a real zest for life and was always coming up with investment ideas even up to last week he wanted to buy a farm in Shelbyville with the lake on it.
He was loved and appreciated by all of his family and will be greatly missed.