Troubadour, poet, musician, storyteller, educator, philosopher, humanist, gardener, nature lover, fisherman, mentor, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Francis (Frank) Bookhart Gaines left this world on April 22,(Earth Day) 2021.
Frank was born June 26th, 1932 in Sarasota, Florida the youngest son of Mae Frye Gaines (Robey) and J. Paul Gaines. He grew up with siblings Jim, Billy and Polly Gaines (Bradley) all of whom preceded him in death.
Early on he was introduced to 3 life-long passions swimming, literature and music.
He began swimming competitively in middle school and was an All-State swimmer at Sarasota High School in 1949 and 1950. Frank swam almost daily until recently. When he turned 50 he began competing in the local Senior Games and qualified many times for the state and national Senior Olympics where he won numerous medals over the years. He was especially fun to watch doing the butterfly stroke! A love of literature followed Frank all his life and he taught it formally and informally throughout his education career. Frank loved to quote and talk about books he loved. He was also a poet and writer in his own right.
Music was a huge part of Frank’s life. He was a self-taught musician and he sang, played the guitar, the harmonica almost daily. There were very few family gatherings that did not include his music and songs and he was often asked to perform in schools and community events. His rendition of “Old Dog Blue” entertained countless children over the years and won him a special award once at an education conference.
He also loved the game of chess and over the years taught many in his life the game. His last game was with his grandson, Levi, two days before he died.
After high school, Frank attended the University of Florida and ultimately earned his Doctorate in Education.
While at the University of Florida he married his first wife and had four children Annalee, (deceased), Melissa, Sally and Greg all of whom he passed on his love love of music.
Frank worked as a teacher and swim coach in in Florida schools but eventually moved to North Carolina to take a job at Rockingham Community College. There in 1973, he met the love of his life, Patricia (Pat) Jones Smith and started a love affair that would last for 47 years. They built a life that was loving and kind, intellectually curious, community oriented, and politically active in causes that promoted equality, justice, love, animals and a healthy earth.
After marrying into Pat’s “Jones family” he felt a sense of love , kindness and consideration that became an example for his life with Pat. The Jones, Liebscher, and Apple families were an integral part of Frank’s life after the marriage and he often said “they showed me by example how a family should treat one another, love one another, support one another and be with one another.”
In 1974 Frank and Pat moved to Rockingham, NC where Frank worked as a counselor in the Richmond County schools and was active in Civitans, Boy Scouts, the Methodist Church and Choir, and many other activities.
After vacationing on the Crystal Coast one summer, Frank and Pat decided to make a move to be closer to this beautiful place. Frank took a job as a Dean at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC in 1981. He and Pat built a house in Swansboro in 1987 where Frank was able to enjoy boating, fishing, gardening, music, and many community endeavors including the annual Handel’s Messiah concert and the barber shop quartet.
After retirement from Coastal Carolina, Frank worked part-time for many years as an English Instructor for Campbell College Extension at Camp Lejeune. He loved his military students and after he lost a favorite cat, his class presented him with the kitten “Callie” who became his fishing partner for almost 20 years being paid each day with minnows.
Frank was a gentle and giving man and he loved many things in his life… he loved his wife, he loved his children, he loved his extended family and he loved his life…. He also loved his 5 o’clock scotch and soda
This is what we ask…that any day at 5 o’clock when you have a drink (of your choice) in hand and know that love, kindness, music and family are important, lift your glass to Frank, a man who knew all these things and more.
A special thanks to the Mahaley family- David(son-in-law), Rhett, Steve and Lee who over the years spent many an hour helping Frank with house repairs, dock rebuilds, yard work, hurricane repairs, ramp building and the “occasional” drink. They offered a fellowship of brothers that Frank thoroughly enjoyed and admired. Also, a special thanks to the students who would come down with David (sometimes willingly☺ ) to help with yard work over the years. Daniel, Alex, Matthew and Aaron - He loved talking to you and sharing his life and stories with you and his family appreciates the kindness and love you showed him.
Frank is survived by his wife of 47 years Patricia J. Gaines; step-daughter and son-in-law Lori and David Mahaley of Edenton, NC and their children Katy Mahaley (Tommy Holland) and Levi Mahaley; daughter Melissa G. Johnson of Kearney, Nebraska and her children Damon Amos, Jade Templeton, and Mary Byrd; daughter Sally Gaines Tidyman of Blowing Rock and her daughter Hannah Tidyman; son and daughter-in-law Greg and Amy Gaines of Blowing Rock and his daughters Allison Jenkins, and Callan Gaines.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you contribute to your favorite animal welfare group or favorite environmental group.