August 21, 2011


Park County authorities found a body Saturday on Bison Peak that was believed to be missing hiker Frank Stanley. Stanley, 44, set out to climb the 12,431- foot peak July 25 and sent a text message after reaching the summit — but has not been heard from since. His Jeep was found at the Lost Park Trailhead in the Pike National Forest.

That was the story that ran in yesterday's Denver Post.

These are the things the paper didn't mention: That Frank had been one of my husband's best and most loyal friends since fourth grade. That in high school he bravely stuck with Ben when the cops threw them in jail for lighting off illegal fireworks, and a few years later traveled across the country for Ben's college graduation. That he was the best man in our wedding, and how, a couple of days before the ceremony, when Ben was fretting indignantly about some perceived misbehavior at my bachelorette party, the usually amiable Frank turned to Ben, looked him in the eye, and said "Get over yourself." Which was exactly what Ben needed to hear.

The paper didn't talk about his love of music (especially the blues, and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan), or his amazingly diligent recording of sports statistics, or his devotion to and pride in the kids in his life, from his beloved nephew to his students and the girls on the soccer teams he coached. Or his perpetual drive to be outside in the mountains - skiing, biking, hiking - on pretty much any free day he had.

They didn't mention how much my kid loved his "Uncle Frank," how they bonded over soccer and how Frank, even if he was totally pooped out after a full day of skiing or biking, would always say yes to a quick scrimmage (and attend every one of Jacob's games he could get to). How my heart broke clean in two the moment Jacob realized the significance of the length of time Frank had been missing, and turned to me and said, quietly, "Don't say his name any more, Mom. It makes me too sad."

The paper didn't note the incredible grace with which each and every one of his family members said, "It's such a blessing he went doing something he loved." Or the scene last night in my kitchen, after we received the text saying they'd found him, as I watched my very strong mother-in-law weep for the first time ever in the 15 years I've known her, and heard her say, "Oh, Robyn. It's like we've lost one of you."

We have. We have lost one of us. We will miss him always.


  1. I am sorry for the loss of your friend, his character traits are those we should all aspire to. God Bless Frank.

  2. Oh Robin, I am SO sorry. This was a beautiful tribute to an incredible man.

  3. My heart goes out to you and your family. Each of you and your dear friend, Frank, will be lifted up in my prayers. I lost my best friend last year...the girl who would be in my wedding and would be "aunt" to my kids.... surround yourself in memories and love... may you all find peace.

  4. Frank was one of the most important teachers in my sons life. He had an uncanny ability to understand kids; what they needed to move forward, what their strengths were. Frank was patient and funny and feisty and forgiving. He was also tough and diligent. My son is struggling mightily. Losing Frank is harder than hard. BUt having had Frank in our lives at all was one of the greatest blessings in my sons 13 years. God Bless Frank and God Speed. You are all in this families thoughts and prayers. Frank will NEVER be forgotten by this family; NEVER.

  5. A boy that peeked through the door, when I had a sleep over or play date with his sister. So quiet, so interested in life and it's mysteries, a strong hold and an occasional seat warmer at family dinners.

  6. thank you, dear Robyn, for sharing this wonderful tribute to Frank... i did not know him, but know Leila & Kyle thru Australian Cattledogs and Agility here in NM.....

    my Daddy died in a mtn. climbing accident in Peru, so i fully understand what this feels like... it was 1965, but feels almost like yesterday..... i was only 17, & i miss him every day.... Daddy, too, was such a huge influence in zillions of lives, such losses are hard to understand, and never forgotten...

    i hope your son can talk about Frank a lot, share lots of photos and memories of his own, and have a record of all that for the future... back in '65, no one talked about death much, just went on with life...& it was NOT what my younger brother and i needed, or even my mom who was a widow at the young age of 55....

    i look forward to what else you may be sharing, THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOO much for this!! BLESSINGS on your day & your blog!!!! ((*:*)) annie

  7. What a beautiful tribute. I'm glad to know what a wonderful person he was behind the blunt words of his passing.