Francis Bryan Wakefield III

Born in Charleston, SC on August 29, 1928

Departed on December 28, 2021 and resided in Atlanta, GA

Francis (“Frank”) Bryan Wakefield III, age 93, died peacefully on December 28, 2021 at his home in Atlanta.

Frank was the son of the humble pastor Rev. Francis Bryan Wakefield Jr. and the pianist/organist/choir director Gladys Comforter Wakefield. Frank was born in Charleston, South Carolina (where his sea-faring grandfather lived); grew up in Gainesville, Florida; and took years of piano lessons from his mother, without apparent success.

At age 17, Frank and his family moved to Mobile, Alabama when his father was installed there as rector of All Saint’s Episcopal Church. His neighbor, the late Robert Edington, paid a call on the arriving family, and Frank and Robert became fast friends. The two young men enjoyed many a warm, post-war, summer’s day at Gulf Shores swimming and flirting with Mobile debutantes under the watchful eyes of their younger sisters Nancy Wakefield and Laura Ellen Edington. In the meantime, Frank graduated the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee; worked summers with Robert driving a Coca Cola truck and restocking machines; and, finally, served as a Lt. JG in the United States Navy on the destroyer USS Hugh Purvis and, later, as acting captain of the large harbor tug USS Tuscarora on its mission of towing a target-practice barge back and forth in the tropical waters off Key West. That last assignment once allowed Frank to take the crew for an epic shore leave in Havana.

Upon completion of his Navy service, Frank proposed to Laura Ellen and they wed. The love birds were married for 62 happy years and produced three sons: Frank, another naval seafaring sort; Michael, a lawyer like his uncle Robert; and Bryan, a one-time PGA professional who predeceased his father this year. Frank gave 30 years of his labor to International Paper Company, which took the family on an adventurous route from mill-to-mill and south-to-north; from Mobile to Moss Point, MS; to Ticonderoga, NY; and eventually to Connecticut. At IP’s corporate headquarters in New York City, Frank’s gregarious nature and southern accent had a needed positive effect on grouchy locals. During their years together, Frank and Laura were active, backbone members of each local Episcopal church, serving in virtually every capacity, including stomping out the beat of the hymns, cooking at many a pancake supper, and serving on the vestry. They were also instrumental in starting a new parish in Hampstead, North Carolina. They later relocated to Atlanta and took many a grand trip overseas while enjoying their retirement.

Frank enjoyed laughing, telling stories, sledding down hillsides, driving in the snow, getting lost, skippering his boat, singing in choirs and barbershop quartets, traveling, and miraculously skipping golf balls across lakes. But mostly, Frank loved Laura, who predeceased him in January 2019. In addition to his sons Frank and Michael and their wives – Pam Wakefield and Rebecca Mick, Frank is survived by grandchildren Bryan J. Wakefield and Erica Bittner, Michelle (Wakefield) Rushing and Michael Rushing, Laura (Wakefield) Parsons and Derek Parsons, Benjamin Wakefield, and Daniel Wakefield, as well as four great grandchildren.

Services will be held at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Friday, January 7 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a reception. A live stream will be available through the church website or Facebook page. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the church.

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Guestbook Entries

  1. VALERIE EZZO December 31, 2021 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful life!! Truly blessed.

  2. Mark Swofford January 1, 2022 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    A beautiful tribute that reflects the man. Knowing Frank Wakefield over the years has truly been enjoyable. He was a lively conversationalist and a good man. I will miss him.

  3. Margaret Boone January 3, 2022 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Frank was a delight. I loved his stories about his long life. One of my favorites was of him picking up his Prom date on his bicycle in Gainesville, Fl, him in a wool tuxedo and his date on the handlebars in a frilly dress. His was an indomitable spirit and I will miss our chats.
    Margaret Boone

  4. Linda Robinson January 5, 2022 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    The most gentle man I knew

  5. Dr. and Mrs. Richard and Belinda Morrison January 12, 2022 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    We were good friends with Frank and Laura when they lived in Hampstead, NC. Once when a terrible Hurricane hit this area they came and stayed with us in our home in Landfall for a few nights. It was a sad occasion for them, but we all enjoyed our time together at our home. Interesting and entertaining discussions, for sure. Indeed, we always had wonderful and memorable discussions with them. We miss both of them very much!
    Dr. and Mrs. Richard and Belinda Morrison
    Wilmington, NC

  6. Hal Moore January 12, 2022 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    My most poignant memory was when he enlisted the services of his sons, Frank, Bryan, Michael, and me, a neighbor, in attempting to get a bus stop for our neighborhood in Ticonderoga, NY. We lived in an isolated neighborhood on a hill with about a half mile of gravel road between the base of the hill and the main road, where the existing bus stop was located. Crossing the half mile was somewhat trying in blowing snow and subzero conditions during the Adirondack winters. The school district would not hear our pleas, contending that the base of the hill was less than half a mile, which was the range that they felt students should be able to walk. Frank had us lined up to hold and straighten a measuring tape as he proceeded down the road in his 1960s Volkswagen Beetle, using a ski pole to mark the point where we needed to rewind and restart the tape. By our measure, we were more than half a mile from the existing stop. Laura’s response to Frank’s crusade was her typical “Oh, Frank!”, often said with a certain chiding tone. Unfortunately, we lost the battle with Ticonderoga Central Schools, as they insisted that it had to be measured with “their measuring wheel,” not the Wakefield measuring tape.

    The “hill” was often challenging to get up in the winter. After a big snow, we could not get the cars up it. We would park them at the bottom. They would appear as large mounds of snow when walked down to get in them in the morning. We would clear the snow to try to find our automobiles….”nope, this is the Shearer’s car”…”nope, this is the Houle’s car”….”this is our car.”

    Laura had an interesting technique for climbing the snow-covered hill in the large station wagons that she and Frank acquired for their brood. Everything back then was rear-wheel drive. She would let one of the rear wheels “spin” on the ice and snow with the big V8 engine roaring, until the wheel finally hit gravel. She would then pivot the rear of the car, so that the other rear tire would spin and gain some traction. By swiveling the rear of the station wagon back and forth, it would gradually climb the hill like a ladder. It was brilliant! These were only two of hundreds of stories…I learned so much from Frank and Laura about kindness, resilience, and determination.

    Hal Moore
    Springfield, VA

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