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Retail exec, educator Richard Frank dies

Richard D. Frank

Richard D. Frank Credit: Handout

Richard Frank, a World War II veteran who was active in East End community groups, had a career that spanned the boardrooms of two major corporations and led to a teaching position at Cornell University.

Frank died May 6 at his home in Orient while under hospice care. He was 91.

In retirement, he served on the boards of a local hospital and arts council, and Community Action Southold Town, a nonprofit that assists low-income residents, the family said.

"He worked a lot, but he was always there for weekends with us, and every vacation," said his daughter, Sanda Chapin. "The most important thing to him was family."

Frank was born in Manhattan and attended Phillips Exeter Academy. He earned a bachelor's from Yale and a master's in public administration from NYU.

During World War II, he was a Japanese translator for Army intelligence. While based in Arlington, Va., he met and married Kathryn Chapin. She died in 2000 after 57 years of marriage.

"Not a day went by that he didn't want to be with my mom," said his daughter, who moved from Colorado to Orient to help care for Frank.

After the war, Frank became a vice president for the New York City department store chain Abraham & Straus, working there for 23 years until the business closed. He was later recruited by Murjani International, a major apparel company, where he was executive vice president for five years. He taught at Cornell's School of Industrial Relations for another five years, retiring to Orient in 1988.

His community and volunteer work included serving on the board of Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport from 1997 to 2009. He also was commodore of the Orient Yacht Club, president of the Oysterponds Historical Society and treasurer of the Southold Indian Museum.

James Frank, of Huntington, remembers his father and mother talking about books at the dinner table.

"He would ask you questions but never gave you answers," he said. "Later on, when we discussed the books in class, you could see why he asked you things."

His son James Frank said he once asked his father how his mind stayed so sharp for so long. The secret, he was told, was the daily crossword puzzle.

Survivors include another son, John Frank of Old Bethpage; a sister, Bette Stein of Manhasset; and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to9 p.m. at Horton-Mathie Funeral Home, 735 First St., Greenport. A celebration of his life will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Orient Congregational Church on Main Road. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Eastern Long Island Hospital or East End Hospice.

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