Frank was a special person, always happy with a quick wit. He didn’t pretend to know all about everything, but he did love his own story and his generation. Frank was born August 4, 1923. His early life circumstances today would be considered sad or disadvantaged. To Frank it was wonderful. It’s what made his story great and his perseverance unstoppable.
Frank and my friend and writing partner, Elizabeth (Liz) Harper, met through mutual friends, Chris and Cindy. Frank would visit Liz’ school and speak to the students. After speaking one day, Chris and Liz decided they needed to get Frank back in the air. Liz lived at the USAF Academy at the time and was able to help set up a 92nd birthday flight for Frank. On that day, Liz drove. She knew he would be tired.
On the way home Frank said, “All those reporters want me to write a book. Other people do too.”
Liz responded, “Why don’t you Frank?”
Frank laughed back, “I’m dyslexic. I hate to write, and I can’t spell worth a lick. No one shows up to help.”
Liz responded, “Well, do you want some help?”
Frank and Liz started the next week. Not only did she show up, she showed up every Friday for the next two years! I like to call it Fridays with Frank!
Through that time, they recorded his life story up to his short time at Tuskegee. He was there twice. They wrote and launched a book together, spoke at numerous events together and became the best of friends!
Our third partner, Deanna Dyekman, and I traveled to the Brighton Library several times a year. It was halfway between Colorado Springs and Cheyenne. We edited, brainstormed, advised, and celebrated the work Frank and Liz did together.
Frank had two objectives with sharing his story in addition to recording history. He wanted kids today to know that they can overcome ANY obstacle. Hard work and perseverance are what it takes. Frank also built a scholarship fund for young people to attend trade schools. It is called the Frank Macon Trades Scholarship Charitable Trust.
Frank’s story includes learning to live with dyslexia, at a time when little was known or acknowledged about dyslexia. He struggled in school as he said, “Those old letters and numbers jumped all over the page!” In middle school Frank had the opportunity to work with his hands in mechanics class. That is how he found his passion and direction. Frank’s scholarship for the trades is his way of leaving a legacy for others who, like him, love to work with their hands. He wants to offer them the opportunity to be successful.
As we welcome Black History Month in February, I wanted to share a little about Frank’s story. He sadly passed last Thanksgiving. He was 97 when he died. Clear to the end, he never lost his will to press forward, while sharing his story. He always gave his best presentation. He received a second Congressional Gold Medal for his Civil Air Patrol contributions one week before he passed away.
In the end, he was one of the few remaining Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen. Today there are just a handful living. Tuskegee is a part of World War II history that is often overlooked. It has been a joy to learn more about it from Frank and outside research. Everyone has a story and I’m thankful I got to be a small part of Frank’s, and he of mine!
Liz and Deanna have created an Activity Book to go along with his book titled I Wanted To Be A Pilot – The Making Of A Tuskegee Airman. If you have questions or would like to arrange a speaking engagement with his co-author, Liz Harper, please complete our Contact Form. I’ll be happy to get you connected. You can visit his website at www.franklinmacon.com for more information about Frank, pictures, links to purchase his book or activity book. If you are a teacher, these are perfect additions to your curriculum or if you have a student/child/friend with dyslexia, Frank’s story will give them a personal connection.