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Goodbye, Frank Marcy

Silent servant dies after 94 full years of life
by: Lloyd Woods, Frank Marcy proudly rode in the back seat of the Cascadia Village entry in the 2007 Sandy Mountain Festival Parade as one of the facility's "royal" residents. Marcy enjoyed living at Cascadia, and in his last days distributed crossword puzzles to friends.

It's difficult to look around Sandy and not see the influence of Frank Marcy.

That influence extends far beyond his serving as the namesake of the little street near Sandy High School, or working as the greeter at the former Hi-School Pharmacy store in town every day for 15 years. There's so much more.

But Frank - who died at his home at Cascadia Village on Wednesday, March 5, after 94 full years of life - was never the type to toot his own horn, his friends and loved ones say.

'He was quite a multifaceted man,' his daughter, Denise Simoncini, said. 'He was loved by many and was always looking for ways to help. He lived his life in the most respectable, dignified way - better than any man I ever knew.'

Frank Lucius Marcy was born in Milford, Kan., to Frank and Ella (Stittsworth) Marcy on Jan. 28, 1914. He was raised in Kansas, where he completed high school and graduated from Kansas State College with a degree in agronomy - the study of soil.

On April 13, 1941, he married Joyce C. Sahlberg in Wichita. They lived on the family farm in Milford, where they began their family, and Frank raised cattle and wheat.

But Frank's farm career was cut short when the federal government purchased his farm - and many others - to make room for the Milford Lake Dam.

'The government forced everyone to move,' Simoncini said.

The Marcys had a favorable impression of Oregon after visiting friends in Newport years before, so that's where they started a new life in 1961.

Joyce got a job as a home economics teacher at Sandy High School, and Frank - realizing that farming was quite a bit different in the Willamette Valley than in Kansas - went back to school to get his master's degree in teaching special education, and worked with special-needs children within the Sandy School District.

Frank adopted Sandy as his new, permanent home, built the family's house on Bluff Road himself and developed several duplexes on what is now Marcy Street.

In 1973, he rented out one of those units to Les Geren and told him that the fact that he wanted to teach in town was enough qualification to rent.

'He was a very generous and warm, warm, warm man,' Geren said. 'He was the epitome of gentle.'

From his former landlord, Geren said he learned compassion and to 'not fret the big things.'

Frank the volunteer

Everything Frank did had a community-building component to it. Working as a special education teacher brought the joy of learning to students with learning disabilities.

'He loved children,' Simoncini said.

While maintaining a home in Sandy, that love of children took the Marcys from the Mount Hood corridor to Seaside and all the way to Australia.

Before he retired in 1980 and got even busier, Frank finished his professional career working as a counselor for the Women In Crisis (WIC) program, what is now known as Women Infants and Children.

'He loved that too,' Simoncini said. 'His job was to help single women with children that were struggling.'

Getting paid to assist children - be it financially or educationally - was a delight for Frank, but volunteering for his beloved Sandy community with his wife was the highlight of his life.

'Giving back to the community was what my parents enjoyed the most,' Simoncini said. 'Sandy was a wonderful community where they had an opportunity to serve, and they served everywhere they possibly could.'

The Marcys were instrumental in the formation of the Sandy Senior Center and the Sandy Community Action Center, which helps hundreds of local families in need on a regular basis.

'They helped start it, and spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of their time there, in their so-called retirement, just helping the needy,' Simoncini said.

After retiring from teaching in 1980, Frank stayed active volunteering for Meals-On-Wheels, as a tutor at the grade schools and with Kiwanis projects. He and Joyce also hosted Japanese exchange teachers and international exchange students.

Frank also volunteered countless hours teaching children how to read.

'He had all these letters and pictures from children telling him how much they loved having him there, and how much it helped,' Simoncini said. 'He loved it.'

Frank the greeter

From 1992 until last September, he worked as the greeter at Hi-School Pharmacy for two hours a day.

'He loved going there,' Simoncini said. 'He loved greeting people and saying hello. I think they loved him back.'

'He was an incredibly nice and patient guy,' store manager Mark Spears said. 'He always went out of his way to learn every employee's name, even the ones that were only around a couple of months.'

Frank paid attention to the details; he would notice things such as when a co-worker changed her hair color - and he would comment on it. He also would watch one particular tree in the Sandy Marketplace parking lot and would marvel at its colors.

'The tree had been grafted, so it had two colors of maple leaves on it,' Spears recalled. 'He would always comment, 'My, that tree sure is amazing; isn't nature amazing?' '

Frank was always a hit with the Hi-School Pharmacy customers.

'A lot of them had been taught by him in school,' Spears said, 'and a lot of those people were older - 50-year-olds had gone to school under him.'

Initially, Frank showed customers around the store, helping them find certain items. After five years or so, he was given a chair at the front of the store, where he would tell customers where they could find things.

'People thought he was the owner of Hi-School Pharmacy,' Spears said. 'But he was an employee, a greeter, who became like family. He touched a lot of people more than they realized.'

Frank always took pride in his appearance.

'He always wore a suit jacket and a white shirt,' Spears said. 'He was very meticulous about that. He was a pretty regular customer of Mt. Hood Cleaners.'

Spears said it was extremely difficult to get Frank to take the little vacation he'd accrued over the years.

'He literally came to work every day for a few years straight,' he said. 'He never took vacation. He just liked coming to work so much. He found it important to work.'

Even through Joyce's illness and subsequent death in 2003, Frank kept going to work. It meant a lot to him just to be there.

'I think the last few years we kind of helped keep him kicking,' Spears said. 'As silly as it is, those two hours a day gave him something to look forward to every day.'

Frank's health took a turn for the worse in the months shortly after Hi-School's closure.

He was going to be the greeter at Geren's Farm Supply, but since construction took longer than originally anticipated, it ultimately didn't work out.

Spears went with Frank to his job interview with Les Geren.

'Les said, 'Do you want to come work for me?' Frank said yes, and he said, 'That's all the interview I need,' ' Spears recalled.

Instead of greeting, Frank kept himself busy during his last few months copying and distributing crossword puzzles for his fellow residents at Cascadia Village. They called it 'Frank's puzzle.'

'He was always happy and proud that he did that,' Spears said. 'It gave him something to be working on.'

He inspired his fellow Cascadia Village residents, said the facility's office manager, Tom Grimes.

'I think the residents here kind of looked at Frank and thought if he could keep going, they could too,' Grimes said.

Saying goodbye

Frank's mind and heart kept sharp up until the day he died.

'He wrote me the most beautiful Valentine I'll treasure the rest of my life,' Simoncini said. 'He expressed his love for me, thanking me for everything I do, but it was all for him, because he was such a wonderful dad.'

An accidental fall at Cascadia Village began the series of events that led to his death. For the last few days before he died, Frank was in a coma.

Family members knew his time was limited, so they sent Frank back to his home in Sandy to say goodbye to all his friends.

The day after he got home from the hospital, Frank Marcy died.

'The people there, his friends at Cascadia, had one last chance to say goodbye,' Simoncini said. 'They were able to come in his room, hold his hand, stroke his forehead and say goodbye.'

Simoncini said her father left this world without an enemy, with a town full of friends, and a life lived with respect, dignity and purpose.

'He never sought fame and fortune,' Simoncini said. 'He always put other people first, not himself. He was an amazing person, truly beyond compare. He was unique in that he had so many virtues that so many people just don't have.'

Frank's survivors include his daughters, Sharon Marcy of Wichita, Kan., and Denise Simoncini of Beaverton; sons, Milton Marcy of Portland and Timothy Marcy of Oregon City; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

'He lived a good life,' Spears said. 'He was a small-town guy, and most everybody knew and loved him.'

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sandy Community Action Center.