Frank Anthony Lapenta
West Point, 1969
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by William H. Ward on July 5, 2012:
I did not know Frank as a Cadet nor afterwards until after I read his write-up in the "Twentieth Reunion of the Class of 1969" book for which some of you did GREAT work and didn't give yourselves credit (to those who put this volume together--GREAT JOB!!) Here's what Frank wrote which touched me:
"Personal Statement: After the Army I attended the Harvard Business School and graduated in 1977. I worked at Nestle as a product manager for four years. In 1981 I joined Booz Allen and Hamilton in New York. I also co-founded The New York City Gay Mens Chorus which is now over 100 strong and has performed in Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. In 1986 my significant other and I came to California. I joined Blue Cross at California as Director of Marketing for their new HMO. In October '88 I was promoted and became Head of the Drug and Vision Unit. Shortly thereafter, I was hospitalized with CMV Colitis, a disease associated with AIDS. I am now on disability and writing and doing volunteer work. I hope members of my class can support me with love and positive energy. I wish I could be there - I'll see you all on our 25th Reunion."
I thought "WOW, that was quite a statement." I read this shortly after the 20th Reunion while I was staying briefly with Rob and Gerlinde Lindsey in King George, VA while I was sorting out my own next move after Army Retirement. Frank included his phone number in the write-up, so one night in late October or early November 1969 I gave him a call with this intro--"Hello Frank, Bill Ward calling. We didn't know each other as cadets, but I read your write-up in the 20-year book, and I just wanted to call and wish you the best." Man, was he excited to get the call, and so gracious! After initial pleasantries, he asked what I was doing, what my plans were, and to feel free to call on him at any time for advice and assistance. I told him I'd do just that, and if he didn't mind, I'd call from time to time to see how he was doing.
And I did. It was either late November or early December, and by this time I had gravitated to my original homeplace in backwoods of Rio, Louisiana, and I called him again. And again, he was glad to get the call, but I could tell somewhat weaker. When I called again in late December, it was too late--he was gone, and I was glad to later see that a contingent of our class was represented at his funeral.
From this experience, I can only echo the words of Classmate George Albrecht: If you have a yen to do something, DO IT NOW. It may be too late when we get a "Round Tuit." Frank certainly appreciated those calls, but not as much as I appreciated getting to know him.
--Bill Ward, '69 Classmate
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