TAMPA — Mary Sue Frank was a smart and educated woman who could have lived anywhere and had any kind of career she chose.
But she never wanted to live anywhere but Tampa, and the work she found most fulfilling was being a mother, homemaker and wife.
"She was the most nurturing person I've ever met," said her daughter, Patti Schmidt. "She was a true Southern belle and she wrapped her life around her family."
Mrs. Frank had been in declining health in recent months, and passed away Dec. 16. She was 84 years old.
Mrs. Frank was only 2 when her family relocated here from Atlanta, and except for her college years she lived in Tampa for the rest of her life.
Her father was a bank president and also owned the Chicken Basket, a popular restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard just north of Bay to Bay Boulevard.
Her family belonged to the Tampa Yacht & Country Club and when Mrs. Frank was young she would ride her horse from the Yacht Club to the Chicken Basket.
She later attended Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University), where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. Later, her daughters and granddaughters joined that same sorority.
While she was in a Tallahassee, she and her roommate met two young men who were roommates at the University of Florida. The two men asked the two women out, they went on a double date and both couples ended up marrying. They settled in South Tampa and remained close friend the rest of their lives.
Mrs. Frank's husband, prominent Tampa attorney L. Robert Frank of the firm Allen, Dell, Frank & Trinkle, passed away in 1998.
Outside of her family, Mrs. Frank devoted herself to the Tampa Yacht & Country Club, of which she was an active member for most of her life, and the Junior League of Tampa. She was also a member of the H.B. Plant Museum Society and Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church.
At the Yacht Club, she was a member of the Mainsheet Mamas, a group of women who sailed together.
In 1961, the Junior League published its "Gasparilla Cookbook," which remains popular more than 50 years later. The book credits Mrs. Frank with being a central force behind getting it written and published.
While she did a lot outside the home, her family saw her as a singularly devoted mother.
"She took care of us to the Nth degree," her son, Bobby Frank, said. "She was always there for us whenever we needed her.."
Patti Schmidt said Mrs. Frank encouraged her kids to explore and experiment and discover their passions in life.
"My parents were role models," she said.
Besides her son Bobby and her daughter Patti, Mrs. Frank is survived by her daughter Minda Frank, daughter-in-law Claudia Frank, four grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at [email protected]