Frank DeMuynck was born on March 12, 1923 in Kansas City, Kansas and, at 7, began studying the trumpet. He and his older brother, Marshall, who also played an instrument, made music together in the local community marching band and became well-known playing on the popular Saturday radio show, The Kansas City Kiddies. They entertained at country theaters and for private parties in the elite Mission Hills district.
When he entered Bishop Ward High School, he paid his own tuition and bought a model T Ford, which he often used to run errands for the nuns. In the summers, he worked with bands, traveling to New Orleans and touring the state of Arizona.
In 1940 Frank enlisted in the Naval Air Corps and became a seaplane pilot in the Pacific. About six weeks after the atomic bombs were dropped, his crew was ordered to transport a survey unit to record and restore the urgent utility needs of the survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The devastation he witnessed made an indelible impression on him — he later donated his photo collection of this event to the Great Lakes Naval Museum.
After his discharge, he worked once again as a traveling musician, in demand as a fine trumpeter and vocalist. His brother played in the Charlie Fisk Orchestra and met and became friends with a fellow sax player, Bill Vesely, who came from Chicago. When Frank traveled there to an engagement at the New Glass Hat in the Congress Hotel, he met the female vocalist, Mercita Vesely, Bill's sister.
They married six months later and had four children: Nina (Paul Gegenheimer), Christopher, Lisa (Paul Chernyshev), and Aimee (Dean DeGroot). They settled in Oak Park and though Frank worked selling insurance and real estate by day, he also worked as a musician on weekends. He rehabbed two Oak Park homes, and helped turn some storefronts on South Boulevard into Village Players Theater. Later he helped them acquire and, once again, performed the same transformation for what is now the Madison Street Theater.
Frank volunteered to play "Taps" for many returning servicemen's funerals after World War II, so it was only fitting that his graveside service had an Honor Guard in which his granddaughter, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, took part.
His funeral Mass was officiated by Father John McGivern of St. Edmund Church on Feb. 15, for which his family provided music and personal memories.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Chicago Jazz Institute/Students Fund.
Answer Book 2017
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