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Our Tribute to Frank M. Fenton
FRANK M. FENTON - 1996 discussing the plunger
and retaining ring while presenting a Seminar on Moulds.
OUR TRIBUTE to FRANK M. FENTON
Dec. 1, 1915 – Aug. 9, 2005
To capture the essence of such a man is an insurmountable task, for he had a rare personal capacity which would make anyone envious. Frank’s ability to extend undivided attention to everyone he dealt with, was his most admirable character trait. His conversation was so relaxed and unhurried that it put everyone at immediate ease, making it seem as though he had all the time in the world to devote to the current situation at hand.
We did not come to know Frank on a personal level until we became involved with factors to benefit the growth of the San Diego Carnival Glass Club, beginning in 1985.
Returning to Parkersburg, WV for visits with our families, and friends there, we would stop to visit with him and discuss whatever his current interest in promoting history of Williamstown, the Fenton factory, and in general; the Ohio Valley might be at the time. He was always interested in whatever stage of development we could portray about progress with the Club!
Following Frank’s referral of an available collection of carnival glass in Fallbrook, CA, we spent a day there with the owners, cataloging the content in preparation for an auction Dean later conducted during a regular Club meeting, to build a fund toward our first Convention.
On one of our return trips to WV, discussion of the value in reprinting some of the old Butler Brothers Wholesale Catalogs was touched on, and Frank quickly stated that he would be happy to make copies of all pages pertaining to carnival glass, from within the original copies he had on hand, and send them to us for further research. This done, we were well on our way to a year of preparation in creating the Butler Brothers Reprints in 1994. The 250 copies sold quickly, resulting in finally having enough funding to support our first Convention.
Working closely with Frank again, to create our Souvenirs for each Convention to follow, he gave the task his personal attention on the production floor, just as he always did for every Club who purchased Fenton Art Glass Club Souvenirs.
At our invitation, he presented a wonderful seminar on the use of moulds, and colors of carnival glass for our 1996 San Diego/Southern Cal. Convention, bringing along his son and daughter-in-law who live in Northern California.
Frank’s personal inflection and “hands-on” detail to all things “carnival glass” will be remembered indefinitely. With his passing, an era of gentleman-like kindness extended for the betterment of mankind has moved out of reach. We shall all feel the effects.
When we visited briefly with him in March 2005, while on a bus trip to the factory with a group of more than 100 during the Woodsland Convention held in Columbus, OH, it was obvious that his fall and the due course of a familial condition during the previous year had taken a great toll. He stood before the group with cane in hand, a metal bracing across his chest to support his shoulders, with Jim Measell holding the microphone for him. He gave me (Diane) a tribute I shall always treasure. Looking directly at me, across the crowd in the Museum where we had all assembled to hear his greeting, he said, “I have always enjoyed Diane’s writings, and used a part of the one she sent in my Christmas card this past year, as part of my own Christmas message to my family!” What a splendid memory of the last time we visited with Frank!
Our more than twenty years in personal association with this truly RARE individual includes a special personal gift he sent to Dean some years ago: a Poppy Show Vase in Plum Opal – un-iridized. This was following their discussion of using that mold for a Club souvenir. The vases being made periodically for Singleton Bailey in that pattern, negated Frank’s ability to do so.
The vast library in Frank’s office, (according to his own declaration some years ago), will now go to the extensive Corning Research Library in Corning, New York. Corning researchers were accustomed to visiting Frank’s library regularly.
When we paid Frank a visit in April of 2004, before his first tragic fall in July of that year, he proudly showed us his complimentary copy of the Butler Brothers Reprint, having a hardbound cover. He had taken it to the bindery in Marietta College, OH, for a more lasting cover! This too, will have a home in the Corning Library.
Anyone fortunate enough to own a Butler Reprint copy having Frank’s signature, indicating his familial tremor, should treasure it highly! He signed several during the HOACGA Convention in April 1994, where we introduced and sold the Catalogs from our room.
Such fond memories are profound and priceless! Would that memories of all who pass before us, be of such lasting and pleasant quality!!
Dean & Diane Fry
Compiled this 27th day of August 2005 for printing in the San Diego County Carnival Glass Club Newsletter.
Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:
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