Frank D. Iannantuono

Mr. Iannantuono

Frank D. Iannantuono, 90, passed away Wednesday, July 4, 2018, after battling cancer.

Frank was born May 5, 1928, in Tiffin, to Daniel and Bambina (Pacifico) Iannantuono. The oldest of six siblings, Frank leaves his sister, Phil Reamer; three sisters-in-law, June Marquart, Velma Iannantuono and Sue Iannantuono; and 15 nieces and nephews and their families.

Frank joins his four brothers, Tony, Zachary, John and Mario; brother-in-law, Herm Reamer; sister-in-law, Verland “Mitzie” (Tony); and niece, Dana Jernigan, along with his parents.

Frank quit Calvert High School at 16 to work and support his family, but he really started working as a child. Frank “junked,” sold papers and shined shoes. At 16, he joined the Tiffin Glass House where he was selected to learn hand cutting, a high skill. Frank attempted to enlist in the service at 18 but was denied because of flat feet and a mild heart condition. Frank joined Webster Mfg. where he ran a lathe for 42 years. He was proud to be part of Webster and made many good friends there.

When the Korean War began, Frank was drafted, passed the physical and was sent to Korea in the infantry; 5th Regimental Combat Team, 24th Division, US Army. During a massive charge of roughly 250,000 enemy troops that overran the UN forces, Frank was trapped. He held out behind enemy lines for nine days with no food or water before being captured by rear echelon forces. Frontline troops would have executed him.

Frank was put on a forced march with other prisoners not unlike the Bataan Death March. He survived 28 1/2 months as a POW. For nine months his family didn’t know whether he was dead or alive. He was starved, worked and attempts were made to brainwash him. He not only survived but years later former POWs told that he helped keep a number of people alive; although he saw many succumb to the environment (38 percent of 7,140 didn’t survive). Upon release, at nearly 6′, Frank weighed under 100 lbs. Upon return, he turned down a parade offered by the city and bought a new car with his back pay. An irritant for decades was that people would ask about “the car the city bought you.”

Frank suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but didn’t let it show. Frank was a comedian, politically astute and a great Cleveland/Ohio sports fan. He was the family photographer. Without him, many memories would have been lost. He taught the family about sports. He was a musician and spent a lot of time playing and singing with his family. He had hundreds of albums from Caruso to CCR. Perhaps Frank’s most important role was in helping his siblings’ spouses, none of whom were immigrants or Italian, melt in with his immigrant family. Frank enjoyed his friends and was often seen with Bob Miller and Gerry Burkhardt. He solved most of the world’s problems at the L&K and Frisch’s coffee counters with a host of good friends.

In later years, he attended former POW reunions. This was therapeutic, allowing Frank to talk about his experience with his family. Key friends from these reunions were Mr. Steve Barcekowski, another hero, who remained in contact till Frank’s passing, and Robert Peters who also passed this year. He also left many friends at Helburn Estates where he lived for almost 30 years.

A Mass of Christian burial will begin at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 14, 2018, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Tiffin, with the Rev. Gary Walters officiating. A rosary will be recited 20 minutes prior to the Mass. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Tiffin.

Visitation for family and friends will be 9:30 a.m. Saturday until the time of service, at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the United Veterans Council or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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