Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. On Feb. 18, 2010, members of the Nederland Area Seniors and various other non-profit agencies roasted Frank Lutz. It was a fund raiser held at TEENS Inc. for the Nederland Food Pantry.
A roasting has always been an event that is held in honor of someone who is well-loved by his community, who is known to have a somewhat thick skin, a strong sense of humor and a background of serving others as well as teasing them unmercifully, with good intentions, of course.
During the roast, various residents got up and plastered the guest of honor with some humdingers.
Kayla Evans: “I’ll be short and sweet. Unlike Frank.”
Blue Hessner: “Frank was the best five percent tipper in town.”
Gary Ennor: “If Frank doesn’t have anything to say he’s the first to let you know and take 10 minutes to say it.”
“Frank is a real know-it-all who is the first to say he respects his superiors but he doesn’t have any.”
Before the end of the evening, Susan, Frank’s wife, had the privilege of throwing the first wet sponge at him, which was part of the fund raising antics. She also had the last word.
It was fun and funny and a perfect occasion to acknowledge the generous, loving contributions that Frank and Susan had made to the Nederland community over the decades they have lived here.
Frank died on September 14, 2017, at the age of 79 and he will be mourned by an entire community of friends, neighbors and fellow benefactors of the area. He will be remembered for the twinkle in his eye as he tells someone how the world is, according to him.
In a small town, there is so much more to a person than what locals, the present people in his life, know about him. People lived in a different world before they came to Nederland.
Frank received his doctorate from Washington University, St. Louis. He was a professor of education, teaching at New York University and Penn State. He retired from Texas A&M and was a prolific writer of several books and many articles on educational policy.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church celebrated Frank’s life. It was standing room only as people came to say goodbye and offer condolences to Susan and their two sons, Paul and Andrew, and their families.
Andrew said that his parents had their best days in Nederland and that he and his brother learned to ride horse, build fires, stoke a stove and set a foundation with rocks. “My dad and mom made all this possible and my brother and I felt like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer gone to the Rockies.”
He said that there was more to his dad than being a member of the Ned community contributing to its civic life and church.
His written work included, “Toward Improved Urban Education” and “Grievances, and their resolutions,” with Lou Klein and Sy Evans.
One of the more interesting projects he worked on, says Andrew, was the establishment of an underground school in New Mexico. It was a counter-culture approach or an experimental school, literally underground, an attempt to determine the viability of schools being actually built underground for protection in case of a nuclear attack. “A pretty grim setting to learn your abc’s but may have some relevance in our world today.”
Aiding in this research, which involved gathering data and interviewing students, parents, teachers and administrators to the effects of being schooled underground, was Susan, researcher, co-worker and sounding board, an editor and typist. She helped him prepare to testify before congress regarding the findings on the underground school project.
Frank’s main concern was for the everyday people and how to best help them. His work is the making of a true democrat, not as a party member, says Andrew, but as one who believed in the ideals of a democratic society.
The real point of the work was to help make a just society and to point out where educational policies and institutions could make things better. “It is a great legacy of learning and social concern and we are proud of our dad and our mom for this work they did together.”
Jukka Pawley played the violin and Will Ford sang, “What a Wonderful World.”
NCPC pastor Hansen Wendlandt took the pulpit and pointed at a chair near the back and told the person sitting there, “You are in Frank’s seat. You could always count on him being there. The Rotary also counted on him being there and you could always count on him for a good argument about Plato.”
To close the ceremony, Jukka, Will and Hansen played Edelweiss: “Blossom of snow; may you bloom and grow forever.”
Each spring, Frank and Susan would present the Peak to Peak Rotary Excellence in the Arts Awards at the Nederland High School Senior Recognition night for music, instrumental music and general arts. His smile was a joy to behold as he presented the scholarship checks to deserving seniors.
Contributions in Frank’s memory can be made to the Boulder County Humane Society, the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church or the Nederland Area Seniors.
(Originally published in the October 12, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)