Francis Theodore “Frank” Gorzny passed away on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley. Idyllwild Fire Department paramedics were called to his home when he stopped breathing. They revived him and he was air lifted to the hospital where he later had cardiac arrest. He was 93.
Born May 18, 1919, in Morrison, Ill., Frank was the fifth of Joseph and Rozena Gorzny’s six children. He attended Morrison High School, but quit after 9th grade to help on his family’s farm. For a few years circa 1940, he built munitions and heavy artillery at the ordnance depot in Savana, Ill. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and went through basic training and 18 months as a rifle range instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was sent overseas to fight in Word War II, training in Hawaii and fighting in Japan, then honorably discharged as a corporal in 1946. In the meantime, he had met and married Dorothea Farrar, a college student and waitress from Greenville, Calif. Their first daughter, Rose Charlotte, was born in 1945, followed by son Ted in 1949, and daughters Kathy in 1951 and Krysti in 1952.
Frank was a crane operator at Camp Pendleton, and in June 1953 he moved his family from Oceanside to a home on Tahquitz Drive. He commuted for about 2 years, then was hired by the U.S. Forest Service as a heavy equipment operator. He fought forest fires, built fuel breaks and patrolled the woods. At retirement in 1986 he was Area 3 Road Foreman, working out of Cranston Station in Valle Vista. The “Gorzny Work Center” there was named for him. He then went back to running a crane in Oceanside.
Frank was always busy. He began restoring antique Harley-Davidsons in the 1970s, winning awards in bike shows throughout the state. Over the years he could be seen on one of his bikes in town or in the 4th of July Parade. In his younger days he was an award-winning archer, often going deer hunting with bow and arrows. During his military service he was also a Golden Gloves boxer. Frank and Dorothea planted a vegetable garden every summer, as well as several fruit trees. An expert tree-trimmer and faller, he would don his climbing gear, hauling a saw high into the branches to top or trim for local property owners. He became known as the “cat rescuer” as he scaled many a tree to save a stranded cat. He was chosen to erect the rock walls around the Tree Monument and he volunteered his time, enjoying every minute.
Anyone who had ever met Frank Gorzny would tell you he was quite a storyteller, and an equally good listener. He thrived on life’s adventures and the entertaining diversity of the human race. He was often seen in town, sitting on the rock wall in front of the Red Kettle or Jo’An’s, chatting with anyone and everyone. At home, he spent much of the day tossing peanuts and dog food to the squirrels and ravens.
Frank is survived by four children, Rose Geske of Puerto Rico, Ted and Kathryn Gorzny of Idyllwild, and Kristine Gorzny of Eugene, Ore.; five grandchildren, David Trimmell and Angela Kellner of Eugene; Suri Weinmunson of Vermont; Trinity Kellner of Idyllwild; and Joseph Good of Portland, Ore.; and five great-grandchildren, Michael, Melissa, Mira, Sadie and Alexander. His wife Dorothea passed away in 2003.
Inland Memorial in Hemet is handling the funeral services, including burial at Riverside National Cemetery. There will also be a celebration of Mr. Gorzny’s life from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 at the American Legion Post 800 on Marian View Drive in Idyllwild.