Cal has lost another member of it’s illustrious family as Frank Kaiser passed away on November 7, 2014, with family present. You can read his obituary in the Chronicle, but I’ll give you a bigger picture about who he was.
Over the past 37 years, Frank and I watched both on television and in person countless Cal sporting events. I knew that his health was beginning to fail when I showed off the new Haas Pavilion to him and he nearly had a heart attack climbing the ramps and stairs. But he made it because he loved Cal sports.
His relationship with Cal began in high school in the 40s. As the Cal band was short of players because of the war (and because women were not allowed to play), local high school students were invited to play with the band. The band was more informal then, an informality which led to the resignation of the band’s director after the Rose Bowl fiasco of 1950 (which I believe Frank witnessed in person), so it was easy for students to join in for a particular game. In any case, Frank had the distinction of having played with the Cal Band before being a Cal student.
He paid his way through Cal with the prize money from the San Francisco Press Club writing competition, which he won with his radio play, “You Can’t Print That” which the Press Club arranged to broadcast nationally starring Jack Webb. He was part of the post war classes and he was there in 1946 when the returning GIs created a bonfire from the bleachers after a stunning 25-6 loss in the Big Game.
He graduated in 1950 with a degree in journalism, and he achieved his dream job when he became a sports reporter for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin. He was everything a journalist needed to be in those days, observant, quick witted and adept with a manual typewriter (we still have his portable typewriter). He covered Cal, USF, and events such as the Modesto Relays. He worked with Franklin Mieuli on one of the first post-game analysis radio shows as he had a great radio voice.
Frank covered the 1957 Big Game just a few days after his daughter (my wife) Karri was born and, even though Cal lost, they honored Frank and Karri with a signed game ball which is somewhere in the attic.
Alas the newspaper business was consolidating and the Call-Bulletin was folded into the Examiner. Frank moved on the advertising where he won several Addy’s and was a pioneer in direct mail advertising using computer managed mailing lists. When I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation, Frank’s mailing lists were managed by our mini-computers.
At home he was a gourmet cook, welder, woodworker, bonsai artist, and photographer. Let’s just say that he never did anything half-way.
When his health began to decline, he didn’t complain. He smoked for many years and he was now paying the price for it with COPD. In the end, we were able to keep him comfortable and conscious. He knew we were all there and he appreciated our presence.
My mother-in-law says that his passing has had an affect on all of us. She says that it has made us all kinder. Karri and I have taken time off and reflected on our own lives.
Saturday we’ll be in Underhill for a dialed-down tailgate with a few friends and we’ll toast to Frank’s memory.
Cal 42, Stanford 17.