Inside the battleship gray casket lay the remains of a great man. Andrew L. Frahler was part of that “Greatest Generation.” He grew up in Portland, Ore. The youngest son of German immigrants, he proved to be a bright student and an excellent athlete. He was an engineering student at Oregon State when World War II broke out. Soon he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Fort McClellan in Anniston and was exposed for the first time to southern culture and red bugs.
Like other young men his age, he was being groomed to go on the front lines, until they gave him a battery of tests and discovered that he was officer material. He had the choice of either going to West Point or the Naval Academy. The choice was easy. He had grown up wanting to be a submariner and this was the ticket to that dream.
He spent the rest of the war in Annapolis, Maryland, at the beautiful campus of the U.S. Naval Academy where he excelled in academics and sports, especially baseball. He was the captain of the Naval Academy baseball team for two years in a row. After graduating with a bachelor’s in engineering, he became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. Over the next 20-plus years, he served on various ships and in the supply corp. His dream of sub duty was dashed with the discovery that he was color blind and he was forced to surface and shore duty.
During the early years of his career, he met the beautiful Claire Jennings of Washington, D.C. She was a recent graduate of George Washington University and had been raised in the Baptist faith. Some of the major characteristics that she was looking for in a potential husband was a dedication to Christ and they must have a similar faith background. Andrew fit this perfectly. He was raised by godly parents who instilled in him a love and reverence for the Lord. In fact, when the other midshipmen attended the required religious services at the Naval Academy chapel, Andrew got permission to attend services at a local baptist church off campus. When they met, he was coaching at the Naval Academy at the time and after a whirlwind courtship they got married.
Their 63-year marriage resulted in four children, Don, Andrea, Ron and Marybeth. After an illustrious 22-year adventure in the U.S. Navy, Andrew retired in Lake Bluff, Ill., and went to work as executive vice president for the venerable Holloway Candy Company, the maker of Milk Duds, Slowpokes, Black cows, etc. He enjoyed his time there until the late 70s when the company was bought out by a rival and the upper management was removed to make way for the new bosses.
In 1977, the family sold their house in Lake Forest, Ill., and moved to the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta where he taught business in a small Christian college and then moved to teaching science in a Christian high school. By that time, the oldest three children were through with college and into their careers and beginning to get married, and the baby, Marybeth, was preparing to attend college. She ended up attending Samford University. It was while she was at Samford that I met her and the rest is history.
After finishing up his career teaching at the high school level and coaching baseball, Andrew retired and enjoyed traveling and serving in the local church. He finished his life as successfully as he started it.
Here are some characteristics that made Commander Andrew Frahler, United States Navy, Retired,an exceptional person:
1. He loved and was proud of his family. He was a good father and husband. He put his family first in so many ways. He had a good balance between his career and his home.
2. He loved his work. He poured himself into the Navy and then into his career.
When he was at work, he was at work. He sought to be a good steward of the money that was entrusted to him. He was never a spend-thrift with the company money.
He was frugal with his expense account, even though he was the executive vice president of his company.
3. He loved his church. Andrew Frahler was very involved in a church in every town where he lived. While he and his wife were in the Navy, they always taught Sunday School and worked with the youth groups. He was constantly coaching church league teams. He also proved to be a good leader and was trusted with key positions in every church where they served.
In fact, when I was dating Marybeth, he served as Deacon Chairman at the great First Baptist Church of Atlanta with Dr. Charles Stanley.
4. He loved the Lord. This was the key to his success in all areas of his life. When Andrew Frahler gave his heart to the Lord, it was a life-changing experience. That one decision strengthened the other areas of his life. He was a godly parent because he was a godly man. Today, all his children are believers and are married to believers. All the grandchildren are Christians and the ones who are married are married to believers. You see, Andrew L. Frahler died a rich man! Not rich perhaps as the world would think rich, but rich because of Christ.
What about you? When you die, could the same be said of you? Do you live for Christ?
If you have never given your life completely to Christ, what prevents you from doing so today?
Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is the senior pastor of Jasper’s First Baptist Church.