Interview with Chapter President, Jim Frank

October 8, 2010

Jim Frank

Jim Frank is our President, and the leader of our primary Community Service project for the last 16 years, the Christmas Family. He also has the largest collection of Penn State Memorabilia imaginable. Take a look!

Where are you from, originally?

I was born in Wilkinsburg, and lived there until I was 5, and then we moved out here to Westmoreland County, and then we lived Strawpump and then we moved to Irwin. And that’s where I lived until I went into the Navy.

Tell us a little about your family.

My wife’s name is Loretta, and we’ve been married 27 years. We have a son Joseph who is 23 years old, and a puppy Sam who is 15 months old.

Where do you work/what do you do?

I’m a horticulturalist; I graduated from PSU in horticulture in 1975. I worked for golf courses planting flowers, trimming shrubs, maintaining trees, and after I got hurt I became a Master Gardner.

Master Gardeners work through he PSU Coop Ext. service. We do test gardens to show people how flowers grow, and we answer phones to answer questions people may have about their garden, and if they have problems with trees or shrubs, they can bring in a sample, and if we can’t identify it we can send it up to PSU, who can identify it.

We give speeches to groups about gardening and things they can do to improve their gardens. We go to classes one night a week through the fall and winter, and then in the spring, after we graduate from the classes we become Master Gardeners. We have to put in 15 hours of volunteer time in the year, and we need to do 8 hours of classroom work to keep our status.

We also have a plant sale every spring, up at the county ext. office in Greensburg, where we sell all kinds of annual and perennials for people’s gardens, and this is the only means of support we have. And that’s basically it.

How long have you been in the club?

As close as I can figure, 25 or 26 years. 16 years ago the club was looking for a community service project, and I suggested the Christmas Family.

We pass the can at meetings and gatherings to collect funds, and we work with the YMCA in Greensburg to fund a family each year. First, we take care of the kids with Christmas gifts. We buy the family a Christmas Tree, and we collect food from our banquet to give to the family early in December, and we supply them with everything they need for the few days around the holidays.

Last year we had a family with a boy that had no bed; he slept on a mattress on the floor. We worked to get him a bed, and we had it before Christmas. Another year we had a family that we bought them a Christmas tree and they had no ornaments. We bought the ornaments and the lights to cover the tree as well.

What is your connection to Penn State?

I’ve worked the games since 1978, and I’ve worked with the Emergency Squad for 26 years. (I’m an EMT.) I was an EMT with Rescue 8 North Huntingdon. I saw a man with an EMT patch and asked what he did; and he helped me put in an application, and I started working almost immediately. We help with people who get sick, or have a heart attack; whatever it takes. The last few years I’ve worked as an usher.

I have a scarf I wear to the games (at least when it’s cool) and I have buttons on it that go back as far as 1974-75. I have a collection of the bank buttons for all of those years at home in my Penn State room, but I am missing 12 from having a complete set back to 1972.

When I started collecting, a friend of my had sheets printed up for all of the buttons, and then they came out with a book that lists everything up to 2002.

If you had to pick your favorite place in Westmoreland County, where would it be and why?

I enjoy going to Twin Lakes, and I enjoy North Huntingdon Township, because I’m still involved with the ambulance service here.

Name your top five restaurants in Westmoreland County and your favorite meals there!

Texas Roadhouse
Eat ‘n Park
Pittsburgh Rare (Station Square) – I recommend the steaks and the Strawberry Fields Salad.
The Back Porch Restaurant down at Lower Speers – The ribs are excellent. It’s an excellent restaurant, and I recommend it highly.
Wilson’s Candy (Jeannette)

Best thing about the drive to State College, and what route do you take?

The best part about driving there is getting there. I take 22 to 220 to 99 right into State College. 99 has cut off 15-20 minutes of time driving. Coming back it’s taken off HOURS. We used to sit in traffic on 322 trying to get on to 220, and when they finished 99, you avoid all the traffic at Port Matilda. I leave my house and get on Oakford Park Road, and get on old 66 to get to 22 at King’s Diner.

And, finally, your favorite Creamery Ice Cream flavor. (Well, okay, top two- it’s hard to choose!)

Death By Chocolate
Bittersweet Mint


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