Frank Areyano, born on September 30, 1915, in Fresno, California died on Monday, February 18, 2013, at home after a stubborn illness. He was the third son and third child of eight children born to Jesus C. and Maria (Tovar) Areyano.
He attended Columbia and Lincoln Elementary Schools in Fresno. Forced by the necessity of the times to drop out of school during the seventh grade, he began his working career to help contribute to the welfare of his family. From that point on, he would never be without a job until he himself decided when to retire.
His first jobs were shining shoes and hawking the Fresno Republican newspaper in Fresno's Chinatown and with his family, picking the various crops in and around Fresno at that time. Picking almost every type of crop grown, he became a solid and trusted worker with a strong back. As a teenager, he would learn to hop freight trains to follow the crops and to find more work. Soon enough, he learned to be street-wise and street tough but was always on the look out for an honest opportunity to earn tomorrow's wages today.
He worked as a produce warehouseman and delivery truck driver for David Chow Produce in Fresno. Those must have been one of his happiest times during the Great Depression; he was forever talking about those days and those friends. Delivering produce to Fresno area grocery stores and restaurants as well as making adventurous delivery runs to wholesale produce markets in San Francisco and Long Beach. He had some great stories.
In 1934 while visiting a friend in another neighborhood of Fresno, he struck gold. Having a chat in the alley, the friend introduced his neighbor, eighteen year-old Helen Cota to nineteen year-old Frank Areyano. After a short but proper courtship, they married on December 15, 1934.
Scarce jobs in Fresno after his marriage and leading up to the war years took him away to where the jobs were: a truck driver delivering eggs in the Petaluma area and working for Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond until Uncle Sam called.
Drafted into the U.S. Army in April of 1943, he was the old-timer wherever he went in Army life. His basic training was at Camp Hahn in Riverside, California, artillery training at Fort Irwin in Barstow, California, desert training at Camp Hood, Texas and winter training at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. He shipped out for Europe on Thanksgiving Day 1944 as part of the 76th Infantry Division, 385th Infantry Regiment, where he had two Thanksgiving Day dinners, one on land and one at sea.
He spent 102 days in combat across France, Belgium and Luxembourg including "their rapid advance beyond the Rhine" into Germany. He remained in Germany with the Army of Occupation (the new conquistadors as he put it) as an M.P. until his discharge in March of 1946.
Returning home to Fresno, he continued to work for David Chow Produce. Looking for more security for his wife and himself he found a career when he got hired by Harvest Queen Bread Company and learned the bakery trade. Eventually he worked for Rainbow and Nielsen's bakeries until his retirement in 1974.
He was a lifetime member of the NRA... "Never Refuse Anything." He was proud of his hard work ethics, his cotton-picking abilities and his family. He had a lot of great stories to tell about the Great Depression, the war years and life in general but he had a lot more dirty jokes to share. He was a bar room brawler, never shying away from a fight to protect a friend against a bullying Sergeant or to keep his looted cognac from being pilfered ("court-martial as court-martial may direct" twice, once in the States and once in Europe), he was still someone you wanted on your side, always. He was the father your mother warned you about when she said "Just you wait until your father gets home!"
After 71 years of marriage he was left a widower with the sudden passing of Helen in July of 2006. Much to our surprise he survived for the next six and one-half years without her. The Spanish influenza didn't kill him, the Nazis didn't kill him, whiskey, wine and beer didn't kill him, smoking didn't kill him... no friend or family member of his would have ever thought that his tiny gall bladder would kill him.
He always said "If I can't take it with me, I'm not going." Well, he must have figured it all out and kept the secret to himself.
His departs from us leaving behind his sister, Annie Ortega of Fresno; his eldest son, Edward F. Areyano; and his youngest son, Frank E. Areyano both of Fresno; his daughter-in-law Connie; his two granddaughters, Caryn Larissa Monroe and Cristina Areyano; and three great-grandchildren, Joshua, Bree and Matthew.
Visitation will be held at the Lisle Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 27, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. followed by the Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 7:00 p.m.
A Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. Burial to follow at Belmont Memorial Park.
There will be a luncheon following the services.