OBITUARY

Francis Habersberger

October 27, 1914May 3, 2019
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Frank has asked that this memorial also cover his life with his loving wife, Nan, as he fervently believes that everything he has accomplished was due to her encouragement and faith in his ability to accomplish whatever task that came his way. Frank firmly felt that Nan revealed to him that he possessed leadership abilities that he did not know he had. Frank was the last of six children in a very poor family and lack of nutritious food resulted in Frank getting rickets, a malnutrition disease. Both of his knees bent outwards. Fortunately, they were straightened out at no charge thanks to the Shriners. More food was provided and he made a complete recovery.

Frank was from the beginning interested in improving his skills via higher education and went to school after work for two years to complete high school. He was the only one in his family to do so. Unable to afford the cost of a college education, Frank took a trade course in diesel engineering and got a degree as a diesel engineer in two years. He then took a course in aeronautical engineering but three months short of graduating he was drafted into the then United States Army Medical Corps where he and a mechanic from General Motors kept the truck transports in good shape.

After one year with the help of his diesel engineering degree Frank transferred to the United States Army Air Corps airplane maintenance. Typing skills then got him to flight operations where he quickly moved up in rank to master sergeant then to first sergeant.

During his time in the air corps in Prestwick Scotland he met Nan Potter via her aunt who worked in the kitchen next to the bake shop in the Biltmore Hotel where Frank’s brother Harry worked. Nan’s mother ran a boarding house and a code word was needed so she would know a family member sent him. That password was “shortbread”. The meeting was not love at first sight as Frank ate half the month’s bread offered by her mother. Nan quickly got over her mad and a few Sundays later after overnighting in one of her mother’s rooms Nan appeared after breakfast in a beautiful dress and a big smile and invited him to join her at church. They were married three months later. When the war was over Nan came over to the United States on the Queen Mary (which her father had helped to build) with 2000 other “war brides” and they started to live normal lives. They had a daughter, Marilyn and a son, Donald and managed to put them both through college.

Frank and Nan’s social life was spent almost entirely in square dancing and Scottish country dancing. They did this for most of the 64 years of married life. They became presidents of three square dance clubs and two square dance associations. In 1989 and 1991, they were co-presidents of the national Organization, United Square Dancers of America. This national organization with over seven million square dancers tried for 15 years to have the United States congress proclaim=m the square dance as the national folk dance of America. They finally learned that congress itself was the adversary, favoring the National Endowment for the Performing Arts, a billion dollar industry while the square dance organizations were chartered by the states non-profit. As money was more important to congress than culture we moved our campaign over to the states with a folk dance festival every summer.

In all the following mention of the United Square Dance Association the term “USDA” will be used. After 15 (1965-1980) years of effort by individual square dancers and clubs at the mid-year meeting of USDA executive board decision was made for the national organization, representing over seven million square dancers in all fifty states, to approve the motion to conduct all future campaigns to have the square dance proclaimed the national folk dance of the United States. This was approved by the board of delegates representing the square dancers in all fifty states.

In 1981 the national folk dance committee chairmen, Mac, and Mary McClure of California presented their bill to congress in “perpetuity”. Over three thousand square dancers showed up at the capitol. With much publicity from local newspapers, congress had to take some action. They gave approval for only two years (1981 and 1982) of which six months were already used before the hearing was concluded. Nan and Frank represented the state of New Jersey. USDA tried two more times for in “perpetuity” but lost.

At the 1988 board meeting Nan and Frank were elected Presidents of USDA. At their first meeting as presidents they proposed giving up on congress and moving to the states for their approval. They appointed Duke and Doris McClesky as the new committee chairmen. They had their committee work hard for five years and in that time collected 33 of the state’s approval at a 66% majority and approved the bill to proclaim the square dance as the American folk dance. At that board meeting of USDA, Duke and Doris and their committee members were congratulated. It was a grand victory for USDA and the square dancers. Congress was not mentioned.

Frank had been a Mason for 70 years having been a member of Stewart Manor Lodge No.56 and Golden City Lodge No.1, AF&AM. He joined Stewart Manor Lodge in 1950 and transferred membership to the Golden Lodge in 2010. Past master and current secretary of the Golden Lodge Byron Walker presented Frank his 60 year certificate and pin at his home on March 18, 2012. Frank participated with his brother Masons in the symbolic laying of the corner stone at the First United Methodist Church in Golden Colorado for its 150th anniversary.

The following information is on Frank’s work history. With World War II over there were too many workers and too few jobs. With the employment agency Frank got a job with General Dyestuff Corporation. The day was long but it was a start with newly gained knowledge. Frank became a textile colorist spending half the time in the laboratory and half the time in technical sales. He was involved in textiles and paper sizing.

On the recommendation of a friend he got a much better job that manufactured products from seaweed off the California coast. He worked for two companies involved in seaweed and bean extracts. The first being Kelko company and the second Marine Colloids. Over the next 30 years he invented products with seaweed that included the following: color fasteners that enabled dyes to adhere to various fabrics (nylon, dacron, polypropylene, etc.) air fresheners, hand lotion (Corn Huskers), and flavored gelatin that was not bone based. His textile formulations were used by a host of manufacturers including London Fog. There were ten inventions in all that led to better pay and benefits which enabled them to have a comfortable living and enabled them to send their children to college.

He also invented colored pellets for a decorative paperweight and later a night light. Nan and Frank started their own company and many paperweights for friends and family.

Upon retirement in 1981, Nan and Frank moved to Florida an bought a house near Nan’s sisters and their husbands. They spent 20 years down in Florida enjoying a close and loving relationship with them all with tennis, parties, picnics, and nightly dinners at each other’s homes. They all played piano and sang so there were a lot of fun musical evenings over this 20 year period.

As they got older they decided to move to Golden Colorado to be close to Marilyn and Gary and their grandchildren. In Golden they became members of Rocky Mountain Squares and Herald’s Angels square dance clubs. They had a comfortable life in Golden and it was important to Frank to know that the love and caring of Marilyn and Gary for Nan in her last days and for Frank to be very proud about. After Nan passed away Frank asked Caroline Ellingson who also lives at Golden Pond to be his dancing partner. They danced together until balance problems prevented them from continuing. They had remained close companions until she, too passed away.

Donald’s 2 cents worth:

Dad had high expectations of his children, and fortunately for both of us, I was willing to oblige. He was often on the road making calls to textile or paper factories and not home much during weekdays, but we never gave it any thought as this being different from what other families had. I had my friends, my toys, and 3 TV channels…what else could a child want? In New York, we would travel to all kinds of parks, forts, storyland places, etc. He helped me when I expressed an interest in making wagons, forts, and yes, even a roller coaster. I was also interested in the chemistry lab he built in the basement and asked lots of questions as to what each chemical did while in 4th grade. At dinner time, he told stories about his travels which I found interesting. He seemed to solve lots of problems and invent all kinds of products.

When I was 14, we had used money saved up and spent the summer in Scotland, living with relatives…we saw all kinds of cool things. Dad joined us for the last 2 weeks and did the driving on the wrong side of the road, which was often single lane anyway…we closed our eyes most of the time! But we got to see Loch Ness, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, London, Stonehenge, etc.

Dad had very conservative views, contrasted by Mom’s more generous views of different cultures. Aside from that, I was inspired by my Dad and am proud of what he had accomplished having gotten no college education. It is because of him that I approach everyone regardless of education as being an equal and worthy of opinions and insight.

I probably have more in common with Dad than I realize. He recently told me a story about when he risked his being court marshalled to protect his men from being distracted with doing calisthenics instead of doing the time critical repair work on airplanes during WW2. An officer from the front lines was transferred into his group and had different ideas of what they should be doing. Dad would not let his men be misdirected. I, too, tend to fight for righteous causes at work without giving thought to the potential negative consequences or risk to myself, and I see that same attribute in our own children.

Dad had lots of ideas over the years that would have improved the state of mankind, but had no clout or leverage to sell them. With ideas ranging from using resin soybean husks molded into tight fitting hollow building blocks for third world communities to a establishing system of deep tunnels distributing flood waters to different parts of the country where that water is utilized, he was always wanting to make a difference in the world.

Even with the lack of some of his innovative ideas not working out, Dad has done plenty of good in his lifetime, and with his passing can rest in peace with that knowledge. We are proud of him, and many others are thankful for his many successful efforts.

Services

  • Memorial Service Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Memories

Francis Habersberger

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