If you ever want to know the secret to feeling young, just ask Frank Douglas, 90. He'll tell you that woodworking has kept him going for nearly 50 years - and he doesn't plan to stop any time soon.
Frank has been a resident at Cedar Crest for more than 14 years, and he's spent much of that time creating the showcases that visitors stop and admire in the main hall of the independent living apartments building. He creates a new, intricate piece each month, based on a theme. March's feature included leprechauns, June's will include colorful gardens, and August's will evoke fond memories of vacations. Frank enjoys using Cedar Crest's woodworking shop and says that it has everything he needs "but a martini maker!"
Frank first began making showcases at Craig High School in Janesville, where he taught geography for 30 years and become one of the community's most beloved instructors. He never married, but Frank's generosity has earned him 65 "surrogate sons" - graduates who were awarded scholarships in Frank's name. In addition to his scholarship fund, Frank has also taken over 100 students on all-expenses paid trips around the world.
"I like to refer to myself as Janesville's number one gypsy," Frank shares. "Over the years, I've been fortunate to visit 130 countries. I've found that one of the greatest challenges in life is retirement. So even after I retired from teaching, I figured, why should I stop sharing those experiences with others?"
In fact, Frank's doctor says he is one of his most unusual patients, because he thinks so differently than others, and that his generosity "keeps him alive." Frank has suffered from a number of debilitating health conditions, including cancer and ailments related to his heart and gallbladder. But he still believes that "life is the ultimate miracle."
He first began to embrace a more positive outlook on life as he spent several months recovering in the hospital, post-combat in World War II. Frank was 19 years old when he took part in the D-Day assault in Normandy, France, among other battles. When he returned home to Janesville, he promised to "do some good in the world."
In addition to woodworking, Frank keeps busy writing short novels that detail his life experiences and family history. He's currently working on his 15th book, and his most recent work focused on his memories growing up during the Great Depression. Frank has also written two books about his time spent in combat throughout World Word II.