Stanton couple build faith, family, church
April 18, 2019
They’ve built a marriage and a family, a home and they helped build a church.
“Through a lot of prayer and effort we made it this far, and we feel really blessed,” said Gladys Frank, 91, of St. Peter Parish in Stanton, who celebrated 71 years of marriage last August with her husband, 92-year-old Elvin.
The Franks have lived in a nursing home since last summer, after selling their farm south of Stanton in the late 1990s to move into town, then entering assisted living in 2016.
It’s been a full life, said Elvin, who was baptized a Lutheran and converted to Catholicism as he and Gladys married in 1946.
“I’m so glad I changed to Catholicism,” Elvin said. “I feel like I found my right religion. It was easier to understand and it was helpful.”
“They’ve been very good Catholics, very active in the church,” said Father Gerald Connealy, pastor. A Communion service is held once a week at the nursing home, and Mass once a month, Father Connealy said. “That’s very important to them,” he said.
Elvin and Gladys met in high school and corresponded while Elvin served as a Navy radio operator in World War II from 1944 to the end of the war in 1945, seeing action in Japan and the Philippines.
Back on the farm passed on by Gladys’ parents, they raised cattle and hogs, grew corn and oats, built their own house with the help of friends and neighbors, and were blessed with four children, six grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren.
“They turned out real good, so I guess it’s all right,” Elvin said of their family.
It’s been more than all right, said their daughter, Jennifer, who lives in Tekamah with her husband, Bruce, and daughter, Ashley. Gladys and Elvin have been a faith-filled example and inspiration of marriage and community life, Jennifer said.
“Their faith has been the strongest staple,” she said.
Jennifer said she remembers her parents helping financially when parishioners at St. Peter decided to build a larger church, replacing a wooden, white church that seated about 60 people with a brick church that seats about 300 people.
“We didn’t have very much money, but every month that envelope went into church,” she said.
Gladys said she and her husband made difficult financial and other sacrifices for the good of the parish – the community. “We were raising a family,” she said. “It wasn’t easy.”
For years, Gladys taught religious education at the parish, served on and was president of the Altar Society which provided hosts for Communion, cleaned altar clothes and served lunches at funerals and other events. Elvin helped count the collection after Masses and was an usher and a charter member of the local Knights of Columbus, which held hamburger feeds and other events for the parish.
And the community supported them, Gladys said.
“My friends were all praying for me and our friends had to pray for my husband, too,” Gladys said of her battle against cancer more than 20 years ago and Elvin’s heart attack in 2001.
Jennifer said more than 26 family members got together in 2016 – as their parents celebrated turning 90 and 70 years of marriage – and gave them a book of World War II photos of Elvin and words taken from a journal Gladys kept at that time. Many of the children didn’t even know the journal existed, until their mother brought it out one day in 2015, pages yellowing and starting to fall apart, Jennifer said.
It was time to preserve those memories, she said.
“Love of God, love of country, love of family. That’s all mixed in together with us,” Jennifer said.