Donald Gene Frantz

January 20, 1934 ~ September 20, 2021 (age 87)


Grandson Jesse:  I wrote this tribute and summary of Gpa Don Frantz's life. I sure miss him! But truly rejoicing for him!

  My grandpa was an amazing man. He was born in 1934 and grew up in the hills of California, riding horses, and exploring the brush.

  He joined the coast guard for four years which took him to Europe, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

  He was saved while serving, and immediately invested in books on spiritual growth and became the substitute chaplain on his ship.

  Once back in school at Berkeley after his discharge, he became heavily involved with Billy Graham crusades, Intervarsity Fellowship, and Campus Crusade.

  In 1958 He went on a mission trip to the jungles of Mexico one summer during college that inspired him to pursue a life in missions.

  The next summer God miraculously provided the finances for him to attend Wycliffe’s Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) program in Norman, Oklahoma.

  He came back to Berkeley and assembled his own linguistics major a year before Berkeley officially offered one.

  At the end of his first summer at SIL he was late for his church ride, so he decided to go with his roommate to his church.

  The car that picked them up was driven by a young dark beauty named Patty who captured his heart for the next 55 years.  They were married the next summer.

  A year later Don headed back to the jungle for Wycliffe’s intensive jungle camp survival training program that prepared translators to live in primitive conditions.

  Once they completed their training in 1960, Don, Patty, and new baby Lisa were sent by Wycliffe to northern Montana and Southern Alberta to research the Blackfoot language.

  He moved his little family to live in a tent on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, MT, and later Gleichen, Alberta. Sons, Tim and Jeff were born in the next couple years.

  While researching the language in MT, they survived one of the coldest winters on record, while living in a camping trailer.

  A year later they moved to a little house in Arrowwood when Don was asked to be a part time minister at a church there.

  Blackfoot became Don’s passion for the rest of his life. He was one of the first people to develop Blackfoot as a written language.

  Don earned his PhD in Linguistics in Edmonton, while continuing to study Blackfoot and began translating parts of the Bible.

  In the mid 1970's he moved to Ottawa for a year to support Wycliffe translators that were working on native languages from eastern north america, & teaching at University of Ottawa..

  Don famously wrote the Blackfoot dictionary (3 editions), and Blackfoot Grammar.

  He also translated “The Jesus Film” into Blackfoot. This was the life achievement he said was most satisfying.

  He did language consulting work in New Mexico, Eastern Canada, Nigeria, and Cameroon. He also taught language development classes in Alaska and Peru. He regularly spent summers teaching at SIL back in Norman, and then in North Dakota when the program moved there.

  After moving to Lethbridge in 1977 he became a professor at the University of Lethbridge, where he taught into his 80’s.

  He also developed a passion for triathlons in his late 40’s and completed three Iron Man triathlons, the last one at the age of 74. Of the 150 plus triathlons Don competed in, he finished every single one, despite cramps, injuries, and a gashed hand that required him to hold the gaping flap shut for the whole run portion of the race.

  Don stayed faithful to his devoted Patty for all 54 years of marriage before cancer took her too soon in 2013.

  Don also remained devoted to Jesus and served him faithfully in all his callings.

  Gpa, I will miss you so much. I always loved our conversations and getting to hear the stories of your adventurous life.

 I also always loved how well you listened and how you always gave me the chance to process what I was learning.

 You have left a profound legacy that will inspire us for the rest of our lives.

  I’m so grateful for you, and I know you are loving every second of being reunited with your precious Patty and getting to meet the great grandchildren who went on before you. I love you so much!


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