On Monday, October 23, 2023 Frank Guzman Jr., loving father, grandfather and great grandfather passed away at the age of 79.
Frank was born the eldest of seven children in Winkelman, Arizona on April 2,1944. He was a good student and earned a perfect attendance award for never missing a day of school from kindergarten through high school. He loved art, drawing, painting and music and dancing. He was popular and was voted class president and played the saxophone in a band called the 9 Dreamers. He graduated from Hayden High School in 1963 and was awarded a college scholarship and attended Arizona State University.
He enlisted into the Navy and proudly served his country for 21 years. He was awarded a Naval Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation Gallantry Cross, a Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, a Vietnam Campaign Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. He was also awarded 5 Good Conduct Medals, each representing 4 years of honorable service.
He married his former spouse, Ingrid Schruhl in 1968 and together they had four children. He and his family were stationed in Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, Chipiona, Cadiz, Spain and Virginia Beach, VA. After retiring he moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to live with his youngest daughter and 6 of his grandchildren. He loved the ocean and always wanted to live close enough to see the sunrise, to walk along the shore, to feel the wind, to hear the waves and to smell the warm sea air.
Ballroom dancing was a fun pastime that Frank learned in college. While living in Spain he discovered that he had a real talent for dancing and a few years later he began teaching professionally part time at local studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He taught dancing full time after he retired from the military in 1986. He taught Ballroom, Latin, Country and Swing for over 35 years. Beginning to advanced, social to competitive, even exhibition showcases. He especially enjoyed providing lessons for a couple’s first wedding dance. There was always music and dancing in his home and his daughters and granddaughters were often his dance partners.
Frank loved music and movies. He collected many albums in different genres including rock, 50’s rock and roll, disco, Latin, R&B, country, swing, opera, classical, showtunes and instrumental movie soundtracks. He was always buying and experimenting with the latest audio equipment to create the perfect music for dance routines, for his students and for his own listening enjoyment. On Sundays, after church he often took his kids to the movies or to the video store for family movie time. Many times after seeing a movie at the theater he would go directly to the record store, four kids in tow, to find the soundtrack for that film. He loved watching and recording all kinds of television shows. Before DVR systems he sometimes had three different VCR’s set to record his favorite shows, especially his “stories” (telenovelas).
Always a doting Papa to his eleven grandchildren. He made their holidays and birthdays as special as he did for his own children by making piñatas, fun games, festive cakes and of course, good food. He attended their school functions, sports events and dance recitals. Always with his camcorder in hand to capture these special occasions. His grandchildren always had homemade baked goodies and treats for after school snacks and he kept his freezer stocked with popsicles that were shared with the neighborhood children who loved Papa Frank, as well.
Frank enjoyed making cakes for his family and friends birthdays, weddings and other occasions. He and Ingrid also catered weddings and parties. He loved spoiling everyone with his wonderful cooking. His tamales and tortillas were often requested as well as his famous gazpacho soup and if we were lucky, sangria or “Kool-aid with a kick” as he called it. In recent years he started making customized ice cream cakes for his children, grandchildren and son-in-law Rob every year for their birthdays.
Another special talent Frank had was being a great storyteller. He was very animated and funny and could tell the same stories over and over but still make you feel as if you were hearing them for the first time. He would make us laugh until we cried. He was always so friendly and outgoing and made friends everywhere he went. Even the cashiers at the grocery stores and the dollar store knew him by name.
Our hearts are broken and not a day goes by that he is not loved and missed. His memory will be cherished forever and the void he leaves behind will never be filled but we know that he is somewhere in time, telling his stories, laughing and dancing among the stars.
Frank was preceded in death by his son, Lance Anthony Guzman; parents Francisco F. Guzman (Pancho) and Betty G. Guzman; sister Norma Celis; and brothers Jimmie Guzman and Robert Joe Guzman.
He is survived by his loving family, daughters Melanie Wakefield, Leah (Robert) Carroll and Monica Guzman Tucker; siblings Daniel Guzman (Irma) , Laura Real (Michael) and John Guzman (Brooke); grandchildren Courtney, Samuel, Sera, Cayden, Kayla, Koral, Kendall, Kiley, Khloe, Karter and Sophie; and great-grandchildren Korver and Crimsyn.
A service honoring Frank’s life will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a later date.