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Frank Protiva Memorial

Last week my old friend Frank Protiva died when a private plane he was piloting crashed in the forest in Northern Arizona. It is hard to come to terms with him being gone despite the fact I haven't seen him since his wedding to Barb Lambros.

I met Frank at Coconino High school in an advanced algebra class. He was one year ahead of me. We would talk and write notes with John Willis. This became a long friendship that proceeded to embrace my whole family. With my brother Glenn accompanying him on river and mountain biking trips and later my dad and mom. When my dad called to tell me of his death he mentioned a very special fondness my mother had for Frank.

For me Frank was a passionate and extremely kind person. He always understood you and though he believed strongly in many causes he was never fanatical; always able to express his profound sense of irony. When he left University I remember him getting a job with Peabody Coal. Working for a strip mine seemed an anathema to what he believed and yet he worked in the envronmental remediation group. He reveled in the idea they had hired an ardent follower of Edward Abbey and in the clout he had. He also enjoyed to the idea of driving around in a big 4x4 pickup with Peabody written on the side while be able to spend spare time river running in the Four Corners area.

I last saw Frank at his wedding to Barb. I came down from Oregon; I hadn't seen him since my brother died about a few years before. He was his jubilant self and so happy to be married and to celebrate with all his friends. It was there that by coincidence I made contact again with a mutual friend Ned Luthy who I had lost touch with and learned that he and his new wife were moving to Oregon only about 4 hours from where I now lived. We renewed our friendship there.

So now I found myself mourning and missing Frank. Between the tears I remembered that I had brought an album of my brother's favorite slides back from the U.S. last summer. I combed through the collection and found a few of Frank that I thought I would share.

This first one I believe was taken in high school at one of the many drinking parties we held in the woods around Flagstaff. Frank is talking with Ned Luthy in this one.

This one and the next were taken at my dad and mom's house on Copeland Lane. This one may have been taken by Blake, Glenn's wife. From the left are Tony Cullum, Ron Skiba, Frank Protiva, Glenn Morse, me, Jerry Lubitz and his dog Zach in the foreground.

Here I am talking with Frank.

The next set were taken on a river trip down the Salt River. I wasn't there so I don't know all who went. My brother, Frank and Walter Spaulding were there.

Frank suns himself on the beach.

Frank at camp with people I can't identify.

Frank at the oars of his rowing frame.

Again working the oars.

This final one was taken on the San Juan. This trip was with my brother, dad, and mother.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures. They brought back many fine thoughts of Frank.

If you have any thoughts to share please do in the comments section.

Finally can anyone identify this person below?



John said…

This is a nice tribute to Frank. I was driving and heard about the crash on the radio - I somehow instantly knew that a friend was involved and found out later that it was Frank. I consoled myself by thinking he was doing something he loved, but that's probably just BS.

Anyway, on a sort of related topic, I was tasked with "finding" you for our impending reunion. We have a year, so there's no great hurry, I just wanted to make sure you were on any mailing lists that are created and this is the only way I know of to communicate with you.

Please get back to me when you have a moment. My e-mail is:

i hope to hear from you soon,

John Willis
Barb said…
Thank you for sharing your kind words and thoughts of Frank.
I smiled when I saw the 2 men who I loved dearly standing together in the volley ball scene.

Frank was doing something he loved; flying his magic carpet!
We enjoyed many flights between Flagstaff and Monticello Utah.
It's interesting how life connects us all.

Barb Protiva