Born October 4th, 1933 Francis Ray McGruder in Manhattan, Kansas passed away April 28th, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado at the age of 86. His mother Hazel and his father Ray lived in Kansas briefly before Ray’s death in (June 1936) Frank moved to Aurora, Colorado shortly thereafter. Sisters Charleta and Georgia and brother Richard rounded out the rest of the family.
Growing up, Frank was good in football and enjoyed shop class and working on cars. He went to Aurora’s first high school and played football as kicker and lineman.
He served in the Navy and was stationed in Oakland, California. He would frequently make the long arduous drive from the Bay Area to Aurora for as little as a weekend before returning back on duty that Monday.
But it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve when his life changed forever meeting JoAnne Wild. Getting married on June 8th, 1958 their lives would eventually lead them to their first and only house near the Lowry Air Force Base.
From there Frank and JoAnne would start to build their family and future together. He began working for the Mountain Bell telephone company and for the next 35 years he would spend countless hours at work where he eventually retired as a manager of crews tending to large businesses and facilities.
One of Frank’s passions was fishing and camping. Sometimes on a late Friday night he swoop up JoAnne and the kids to go fishing at Lake John, Twin Lakes, Clear Lake and other fishing holes across the state. Sometimes Frank would rally everybody together after work just to get in the car and drive to do a couple hours of fishing before heading back home.
One right of passage family event Frank made sure all the kids did was smelting metal into metal weights that would be used for fishing. He would also take the kids down to his mother’s house to dig for night crawlers.
Frank loved the cabin his father in law had down just outside Woodland Park west of Colorado Springs. He loved waking up to a Colorado Blue sunrise before taking fish and tackle up to Rampart Range not far from cabin.
In the early 70’s he took on the arduous task of designing, planning and building the basement. It took him awhile to complete it using many nights and his weekends. Anyone asking about the basement he would light up and have no problems discussing how everything came together. He was very proud of that accomplishment.
When he retired in 1983 after putting in many years with the various Bell companies, he and JoAnne started their next chapter together retirement phase. Traveling was their passion. Day trips happened several times a year whether it was up to Estes Park, Evergreen or going over to Georgetown. When the car wasn’t climbing the hills Frank and JoAnne would venture to Blackhawk and Central City using a set amount of cash every trip. He loved to figure out how well they did or didn’t do. More often than naught they didn’t fare too well, but occasionally Frank would hit a big one that would keep him and JoAnne able to go in another couple months.
Frank loved to drive. It wasn’t much of a surprise when we all learned that they were going to pack up and set out to travel to every state in the lower 48, to see their capital and any points of interest in their travels. They loved tracking down every old covered bridges and lighthouses they could find. Many don’t know it but they had just started on their journey to the northeast part of the country when 9/11 happened. They decided to trudge on with a determination of “life goes on” as the nation was trying to understand what happened. They would meet a wide range of folks who were in disbelief.
They would watch their children grow up and move on as they became grandparents and eventually great grandparents! All told if you wanted to invite the whole McGruder clan to a restaurant you needed 18 in your reservation count. Getting “the clan” together was difficult as we spanned across the state but they both treasured the times we could get together.
They also had a wonderful group of friends they knew from high school that Frank would dub “The Crew.” They looked forward to each month where they would gather and have a good time reminiscing about all their stories of yesterday.
All told, Frank’s journey around sun lasted 86 years full of love, hard work and family. Frank is survived by Ken McGruder, Marilyn McGruder, Matt & Becky McGruder along with their daughter Hannah. Christie McGruder and Kelly McGruder. Vickie & Clemens Staack, Katie & Austin Long along with their son Easton. Greg Dery & Ryann Craft. Michael McGruder & Darby Casey.