Back on March 17, two members of the Saint Louis Country Day School Class of 1943 stopped by my office for a visit. “This is my friend Tom Moore,” said Harris Frank of his companion. “We met at Community School in 1928! Can you believe it? We both had to sneak past our significant others to get here. They’re worried about this virus. We told them we would tell you to keep your distance.” Thus began a thoroughly delightful conversation with two delightful people.
My time with Harris and Tom that morning, just a few days before St. Louis County would impose a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of “this virus,” was a welcome respite from the worries that were steadily mounting at MICDS about how we would continue the academic year after spring break. Neither of them wanted to talk about that challenge, or about anything else that was immediately relevant to the state of the School. They only wanted to recall for me their fond memories of their years as students here—or, I should say, as students on the Brown Road campus—and to share with me their gratitude for the imprint of that experience on their long lives.
I was reminded of something that William Faulkner wrote in his short story A Rose for Emily about people of a certain age, “to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches.” For just a little while, I was there on the Brown Road campus with the two of them, free of any concern about the coronavirus pandemic and feeling so very fortunate to have arrived at such an extraordinary school.
Harris Frank died earlier this week at the age of 95. It would be difficult to overstate the fondness that I felt for him despite having known him for so brief a time. Though we only met in person on that one occasion in March, we were in relatively frequent correspondence with one another by email and phone. I was always grateful for his uplifitng notes, each of which would end with a two-line maxim. “Make peace with the past,” said one, “So it won’t mess up the future.” Said another, “Life is fraught with opportunities / To keep your mouth shut!”
Harris lived a full life. He was an avid golfer and traveler. He served in the Navy and enjoyed a successful career in real estate. He believed deeply in service, and supported not only MICDS but also Temple Shaare Emeth, the Jewish Community Center, and the University of Iowa with his time, energy, and resources. Harris helped to create the first St. Louis Senior Olympics, which ultimately became the National Senior Olympics in which he competed until his very final years. As noted in his obituary, Harris “was always interested in places and people and learning, and he rarely gave up on any endeavor, though he came close when it came to learning new computer skills.” Perhaps I will start punctuating some of my own emails with a new two-line maxim in Harris’s honor: “Never quit at anything / Unless it’s a computer!” I hope he would approve.
A few days ago, Edes Gilbert, a former head of Mary Institute and current MICDS trustee, expressed a lovely sentiment to me. “Isn’t it wonderful,” she asked, “to think of all these children at MICDS, and all of the promising lives that they will lead, and how much good they will accomplish in the world?” Our school community is full of people like Harris Frank who have made the world a better place, and who continue to do so, and we are so very grateful for them.
We have recently produced a video that reflects on how much we owe to the many people at MICDS who do their good work here. Its title is The Greatest Strength of Our Community, and I am very pleased to share it with you today.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. I wish you a happy weekend with your friends and families.
Head of School
This week’s edition of “How to Prepare for the Election Without Thinking About the Election”: Begin every day doing what Audrey Nethery does in this video. I will if you will!
This week’s addition to the “Refrains for Rams” playlist: London composer Cosmo Sheldrake has released an album inspired by the sounds of endangered British birds. If you appreciate birdsong as much as I do, you might enjoy Sheldrake’s Nightjar (Apple Music / Spotify).