Born in Chicago on November 25, 1929, to the son of Danish immigrants and the daughter of Irish immigrants, Francis Xavier Phillip Lauritzen, known to his many friends as “Frank,” died March 14, 2014, at the age of 84. Frank was the perfect marriage of happy-go-lucky Danish optimism and beguiling Irish wit. The twinkle in his eyes and his wry, mischievous smile will long be remembered by everyone who knew and loved him.
While growing up in Chicago, Frank attended St. Veronica Grammar School and St. Mel Military Academy. With two sisters and three brothers, he was known by the local parish priests as one of the “Lauritzen boys” and was often summoned on a moment’s notice to serve as an altar boy at the church attended daily by his mother. Frank and his brothers eagerly served in that capacity often, and only years later did their mother discover the real reason for their enthusiasm—they would drink the communion wine when the priests were not looking.
Before graduating from high school, Frank moved to California and joined the United States Army, serving two years at Fort Ord and one year in Korea. While stationed in California, Frank earned his high school diploma from Monterrey Junior College. Frank was honorably discharged from the Army in 1951 as a Corporal. His service to his country was a lifelong source of pride for Frank and he regularly wore a U.S. Flag lapel pin as a symbol of his patriotism. Following his military service, Frank attended Claremont Men’s College on a full academic scholarship and graduated cum laude with a degree in Finance in 1958. He later took graduate courses in Accounting at UCLA.
Frank was well known and highly regarded in the Mississippi business community. He served as Vice-President and General Manager of Regal Cookware in Flora, the position that brought him to Mississippi in 1965. He was the founder of several successful Mississippi businesses including Ryan Kincses Tool & Dye Company, KLH Industries, Prentiss Complex Company, Durant Electric Company, and Jeff Davis Company. Frank also founded KLH International located in Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico. He received numerous business awards and honors but perhaps his greatest was serving as Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association in 1974.
Frank was a voracious reader and enjoyed books about history and business. He was a prolific poet whose works often accompanied greeting cards or letters to those he sought to cheer up or to whom he sought to express special feelings of fondness and admiration. Frank also was a strong advocate for the “American Dream” and he believed that prosperity and success through hard work and innovation are possible for anyone regardless of the circumstances of their birth or their humble beginnings.
Scoring three holes-in-one during his playing days, Frank was an avid golfer and an astute bridge and gin rummy player. He loved playing cards at the “19th Hole” at the Country Club of Jackson where he was a member for more than 50 years. Frank also enjoyed sharing meals and conversation with friends as a member of the Random Club.
Perhaps more than anything else, Frank will be remembered for his generosity to others. He supported numerous religious, community, and educational organizations including the Andrew Jackson Council-Boy Scouts of America, Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, International Ballet Competition, Christ United Methodist Church, Claremont McKenna College, and the Hinds County Mental Health Association, of which he was voted Volunteer of the Year in 2009. But Frank’s generosity extended far past the limelight. He was often known by family members to make quiet but significant contributions, without fanfare or acclaim, to those in need and those in service positions.
Frank was preceded in death by his parents, Fred Martin Lauritzen and Margaret McGuire Lauritzen, and his brothers, John Lauritzen, Marty Lauritzen, and Joe Lauritzen.
Frank is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Clement Lauritzen; five children: Cathy White (Robin) of Madison; Laureen Gorman (Bobby) of Germantown, TN; Mark Lauritzen (Julie) of White Fish, MT; Matt Lauritzen (Patty) of Greenville, S.C.; and Tom Lauritzen (Mary Lou) of Simpsonville, S.C.; and eight grandchildren: Caroline Jeffreys, Charlotte Lowery, Frank Lauritzen, Scott Lauritzen, Monique Wilkerson, Max Lauritzen, Jake Lauritzen, and Katie Lauritzen. Frank also is survived by his sisters, Mary Thystrup of San Jose, CA, and Rose Ann Zecca (Lee) of Chillicothe, IL.
Frank Lauritzen loved life and he lived his to the fullest every day for as long as he could. Although age and infirmity eventually overtook him, and although he outlived most of his contemporaries, Frank never gave up, never complained, and never sought pity. He persevered. The strength of his character and his unbreakable spirit are aptly described in these lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses: “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m., Sunday, March 16, 2014, at Wright and Ferguson on Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland, followed by a memorial service in the chapel. Burial will follow at Parkway Memorial Cemetery. Memorials may be made to a favorite charity.