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View a eulogy for Frank Anthony Lapenta, USMA '69, who passed away on December 18, 1989.

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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