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Frank, Wayne P.

Wayne Frank’s remarkably bold and adventuresome life ended on April 6, 2022. His long battle with cancer was fought with grace, courage and perseverance. He was born on January 23, 1942, the only son of Deloris and Joseph Frank. He was raised by his mother and shepherded through his early years by the loving support of his maternal uncle, John Dachs.

Wayne was a product of Merrill Park, an Irish Catholic working-class Milwaukee neighborhood. He attended St. Rose Grade School and St. John’s Cathedral High School where he excelled in sports. He was the captain and quarterback of their football team. It is noteworthy that Wayne was the first in his family to graduate from both high school and exceeded their dreams by attending the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 1960. Greatly influenced by the writing of Ernest Hemingway, Wayne interrupted his studies for several months to initiate his first adventure prospecting for diamonds in Guyana, South America. He then returned to his studies at UW-Milwaukee graduating in 1965 with honors in American Literature.

Upon graduation, Wayne was accepted into the Peace Corp and served for two years in Gabon, Central Africa working on a school construction project. After returning home, the wanderlust again called and he responded to a government ad to apply for works as a civilian for the Agency For International Development in Vietnam. He was accepted and began training in their language and culture in Washington D.C. before being assigned to Quang Ngai Province located on the South China Sea coast in February 1969. Upon completion of his tour of duty in 1972, Wayne was recognized by the program’s director for his significant contributions to his ICorps division.

After returning from Vietnam, he successfully ran for Milwaukee City Council in 1973, serving his 8th District southside community until his retirement in 2000. During his tenure, he was Chairman of the Judiciary and Legislative Committee, the Special Committee on Taxation and Finance, Milwaukee Arts Board and initiated the Artist Of The Year Program.

Once retired, Wayne focused on writing and travel. Some of his plays were produced by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Next Act Theater and Archangel Production Company. His plays included: Teddykins: An American Hero, The Bridge at Mo Duc, War Stories From The Twentieth Century, Joan d’Arc, Ted F***ing Williams, the adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Wayne completed a novel, titled The Age of Aquarius: A Time for War and a Time for Peace and published a book of poetry, Tavern Tales (2004-2014).

In his 60s, Wayne would spend several months each year exploring the far reaches of the world. Ever the optimist, convinced he’d land on his feet, he spontaneously traveled with little preparation and a knack for making friends along the way. During that time, he created a second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico until failing health brought him back to Milwaukee for his final years.

One of the most important aspects of Wayne’s life involved his time in Vietnam. It is there he fell in love with a Vietnamese widow and mother of four. In 1971, Wayne’s son and only child La Hung Van, was born. Wayne extended his tour of duty in Vietnam so he could remain with his family. Despite great efforts to bring everyone back to the United States he had to return alone in 1972. Wayne’s desire to find them was not realized until 2005 when he returned to Vietnam to find them. He visited again in 2008. Finally, in 2016 with the collaborative efforts of his oldest grandson, La Hung Vuong, and his Milwaukee friend and interpreter, Hoanchau Nguyen, Wayne was able to bring his son, daughter-in-law, and youngest grandson to the United States. His other grandchildren reside in Vietnam. Wayne is further survived by his devoted “little bro” Timothy Frank (Lisa), sister Carol, nieces Ruthanna and Brianna, and special loving friends. Heartfelt appreciation goes to Erecka Golden and Quonisha Watts who became part of his family by providing loving, tender care during his final years.

Wayne’s was a life well-lived. his spirit will remain in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.

Now, good man, rest in peace.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, April 11, 2022 at 10:30 am at St. Rita Catholic Church. 1601 N. Cass St. Milwaukee, WI. Visitation in church from 9am until time of mass. Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery with committal service at 1:30pm.
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