The Coolest Man I Ever Knew
Frank Edward Drenner, Jr, 12/14/1946 – 11/28/2023
“The sun always shines for the cool.”
This was the mantra of my dad, the coolest man I ever knew. Always wearing his signature Ray Ban Wayfarers, even when it was dark outside, Dad carried himself with confidence and style. Frank Edward Drenner, Jr grew up in Wharton, Texas, then joined the US Navy following the lead of his father Frank Edward Drenner, Sr, and his brother Donald. Always a gifted storyteller, Dad’s younger days in Wharton and his service in the Navy were bottomless pools where hilarious memories were drawn and shared over and over.
As a young adult Dad married my mother Pat Guffey in March of 1970. My sister Julie and I joined soon thereafter. Eventually we both contributed three grandsons to the family. Dad considered it his most important duty to provide for Mom and all of us, and she returned his devotion by loving him unconditionally for 53 years of marriage.
Dad was the epitome of an entrepreneur, starting multiple businesses throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He brought a creativity and fearlessness I always admired. He was never afraid to take risks- learning, adapting, moving on from failures, building on successes. Playing anything safe and easy was not in his character. I saw in him a desire for perfection few could achieve. His need to do things- everything- the right, correct way was evident in his gardening, cooking, even shooting pool. He did it all with a chip on his shoulder, a need to achieve and succeed, and a life-long goal to be the best. He overcame much, loved much, created and discovered much.
My favorite memories of Dad were going to the movies in Houston, speeding down the backroads, Bob Seger or the Eagles blasting on the stereo, both of us singing along as loud as we could. We did this from my adolescence right through my middle age years. When we were separated by distance I kept in touch by sending him photos of great meals I enjoyed in Dallas- his reactions were the best part. I would even send him pictures of my own cooking, both of us knowing and accepting it would never compete with his. I will miss asking is advice about what trees to plant where and hearing about the latest toy he purchased to make his cooking even better. I will miss trying to impress him with phrases in sermons or showing off my newest pair of shoes. The last thing I said to Dad was how proud I was to have him as my father.
I have a tradition of writing haikus for my sons when they graduate high school. Now that Dad has graduated from earthly life to a heavenly one, here is one in his honor:
Pepaw, Dad, Darling, Frank
Rocking down the road, jamming
Sun always shining
- Rev Dr Frank Drenner, III