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Family confronts grief in wake of couple’s death

Robert and Karen Frank and Deborah Jenniges, far right, with the restored Montgomery Ward Hawthorne model bicycle Susie Frank rode delivering newspapers in Genoa, Illinois, in the 1950s. Her husband, David Frank, asked Robert to restore the bike as a surprise for Susie Frank’s 70th birthday. (Rand Middleton | Tribune)

PENNOCK — Sorting through her parents’ belongings at their rural Pennock home has been an overwhelming task for Deborah Jenniges. Her parents, David “Dave” Frank, 76, and Mildred “Susie” Frank, 75, recently died in a car accident miles from their house.

Jenniges said she remains in shock by what happened to her parents and is trying to forgive the other driver involved in the fatal collision.

“My parents were really just people who would want us to forgive, but we aren’t ever going to forget,” Jenniges said.

Dave and Susie Frank died in a July 12 accident at the intersection of Kandiyohi County Roads 1 and 27 north of Pennock.

The other driver involved, Matthew Gingery, 40, of Ozark, Missouri, was unfamiliar with the area, Jenniges said.

Gingery was traveling along County Road 27. He failed to stop at the intersection with County Road 1, and his vehicle broadsided the Franks’ vehicle, according to the accident report.

The belongings left behind in the couple’s home serve as a reminder of a love story that spanned decades.

Dave and Susie Frank grew up in Illinois, married in 1957, moved to Minnesota in 1972 and then lived in Pennock for 33 years.

The couple was well-known in the community as the owners of Frank’s Greenhouses.

The couple had five children, 11 grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.

Jenniges said it has been a challenge for her family to keep up with tasks at her parents’ home and greenhouse, but the family plans to continue the Frank’s Greenhouses business. She hopes to manage the business this coming year.

“I hope to keep it open,” Jenniges said. “My dad wanted someone to continue doing it.”

The family is appreciative of the support they have received from the community.

Jenniges said that her parents’ funeral, held at First Lutheran Church of Norway Lake, was crowded with people.

“I was rooted in one spot. I couldn’t move,” Jenniges said.

The Franks’ daughter-in-law, Karen Frank, said each of her family members is handling the tragedy in their own way.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” Karen Frank said.

She said she is confronting her feelings of loss one day at a time.

“You don’t really have a choice. There is so much to be taken care of,” Karen Frank said.

Intersection raises safety concerns

Each of the members of the Frank family have varying feelings about the tragedy, but all believe that safety needs to be improved at the intersection.

“It’s a safety concern for everyone,” Karen Frank, the Franks’ daughter-in-law said.

Many people have called the county’s Public Works Department regarding the safety of the County Road 1 and 27 intersection since the Franks’ fatal accident.

The Public Works Department discussed the issue and has made some changes.

Public Works Director Mel Odens said that the stop sign along County Road 27 has been enlarged and a white stop bar added to the sign. He also said the stop sign has been placed farther back from the intersection.

The family has noticed the changes, but said they want more to be done.

Karen Frank and the Franks’ daughter, Deborah Jenniges, said they would like to see rumble strips and a flashing stop sign at the intersection.

Odens said that Public Works will continue to monitor the intersection and said the agency is following a recommended progression of steps.

He said he has made a request with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to review the issue further.

A crash at the same intersection over the Labor Day weekend in 2012 killed one person and injured four others.

RELATED STORY: 

Pennock business owners’ deaths shock community

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