Mr. Lawrence Frank Engstrom of Lake Isle, Alberta passed away on January 30th at the age of 94 years.
Frank will always be remembered for his love of spending time with family and friends, in particular playing music for them. He was a proud retired member of the Edmonton Police Service as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Frank will forever be loved and remembered by his son Dale (Linda); daughter-in-law Marilyn; his grandchildren: Tammy, Melanie, Wil (Paulette), Brad (Linda), Adam (Alina), Stephen and Gillian (Russell); his great-grandchildren: Jory, Shane, Dawson, Cassady, Karl, Ashleigh, Elise, Isabella, Sophia and Ella as well as many extended family and friends. Frank was predeceased by his wife Jean; son William; parents Lawrence and Tina and sister Eleanor.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to the staff at the Good Samaritan Care Centre (Stony Plain) for their dedicated love and care.
A Prayer Service was held February 11th followed by a Mass of Christian Burial on February 12th at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Wabamun, Alberta. Memorial Donations may be made in Frank’s memory to the Good Samaritan Society (Stony Plain) 4800 – 55 Avenue, Stony Plain, Alberta T7Z 1B4. Written tributes may be made to www.parklandfuneralservices.com.
Photographs of Frank – as an RCMP member in dress uniform and undercover, in his earlier days with EPD and from 2014 (age 89 years). and one more recent (2019?).
Frank Engstrom started his policing career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He made the transition to Edmonton on October 7th, 1953 and was assigned to Patrol Division. In 1956, Frank transferred to Readers Section. On May 14th, 1957 Frank made an interesting career move when he resigned as a Constable and became a Special Constable in Central Registry Unit. In 1973, he was promoted to Police records Supervisor II in Data Processing Section, where he remained until he retired on July 20th, 1979. When he started his career, Franks Register Number was 141 and later re-numbered as 132.
Where are They Now? story from December 2014 edition of The Call Box:
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? (written by Al Bohachyk)
I first came to know Frank in about 2001 when Barb and I bought a piece of land about an hour west of Edmonton, in the Darwell area. I was installing gate posts for the new driveway when a van drove slowly up the remote and very quiet country road to pull up right beside me. The gentleman introduced himself, and in short order, we came to realize our connection. Since then, Frank has been a regular visitor, and now lives right across the road. We are the closest neighbours out of the larger group who live in the immediate rural area.
It turned out that Frank owned the property right across the road, and he regularly patrolled the area, keeping an eye on his place, but later took to watching our property as well. He was the informal ‘Range Road 62 Sheriff’.
Frank is a local expert on the region’s history, and can to this day articulate stories about how the area was firstly homesteaded, then how roads were brought in to provide easier access, and about all the families who have called the area home. Frank can remember when Hiway 16 was still gravel, and Hiway 633 was actually a railroad bed (Great Northern Railway) that was eventually refurbished into a hiway. Indeed, Frank’s family bought land in the area in 1933 and actually moved into the area in 1937. Frank purchased that quarter of land (that he regularly patrolled) in 1944. He indeed has a long history there!
Frank joined the RCMP in 1946 and headed to Regina to ‘Depot’. His troop mates were almost all ‘farm boys’, and with such credentials, Frank was assigned to be a part of the famous RCMP ‘Musical Ride’. The program had been suspended during the Second World War, with the horses literally put to pasture in Waterton National Park. When the war was over and the ‘ride’ was to be re-started, the horses were gathered, and both the ‘farm boys’ and horses went through the training for the program. Frank was part of the first troop to ride immediately following the war.
He was assigned to New Brunswick, and spent time in Fredericton. A couple of years later he was assigned to Yorkton Sask, but that was still too far away from ‘home’ to satisfy Frank. He missed his family, and wanted to get married. The RCMP rule of the day was that a member had to complete 12 years of service before they could marry, and would not be assigned to his/her home province. All those rules were too much for Frank to bear, so after five years with the RCMP, Frank resigned and immediately joined the Edmonton Police Department.
His move to Edmonton was soon followed by marriage, and two sons.
Frank was put to work on a beat. He did not have to go through a formal class, but each week he had to attend a class, - without pay if it was a day off - to be trained to EPD specifications. That may have spawned his interest in what was to become the ‘police association’, started by a group including Frank, George Mitchell and Bill Stewart.
Frank’s work history was focused on patrol work. On one memorable (for clearly a wrong reason) occasion, while driving in the area of the Walterdale Bridge, his patrol car was hit head on, resulting in numerous and serious injuries. Frank had several broken ribs, a smashed elbow, two fractured vertebra, and a nasty concussion. Because it was an ‘on-duty’ incident, WCB became involved, and deemed that Frank’s injuries were so severe that he would not be able to work the ‘street’ again.
That took Frank on an ‘inside’ path, and he finished out his career as the head of ‘Records’ section, retiring in 1979. The most enjoyable aspect of Frank’s work was meeting and helping all those whom he encountered over the years. After he retired, Frank and his wife moved to the Darwell area, very close to where he now lives.
Sadly and tragically, Frank lost one son (who was then a pilot) in an airplane crash on Baffin Island in 1977 and lost his wife eight years ago. About six months ago, Frank’s son and daughter-in-law invited Frank to move in with them, where he has his own ‘suite’ in a beautiful new home. Every sunny day, Frank can be found on his favourite rocking chair on the deck, enjoying the vista of the land he purchased so many years ago. Frank is 89 years old and still enjoys good health. He says that “hard work and clean living” is what has kept him happy and healthy all these years.
Before leaving Frank’s place, I asked him to do a bit of ‘name dropping’, so that I and others might recall some of the characters he spent time with. Because his land was remote, and hunting was good (and he built a cabin there many years ago), Frank had lots of hunting buddies. Some were named…. Ed Richard, Fred Airth, George Mitchell, Ted Tyler and still a close neighbour - Ken McGibney. You may know some of these guys!
Great to visit with you Frank!
Live the Dream - Draw pension for longer than you paid into the fund!
Frank’s Story (as told by his family in the March 2020 edition of The Call Box): Lawrence Frank Engstrom was born on March 12, 1925 at the Royal Alex Hospital in Edmonton. The robust baby boy was the perfect 35th birthday gift for his dad, Lawrence. Proud Mom, Valentina, told her friends that Frank was named after the two most important men in her life - Lawrence and her Dad, Frank Langer. Edmonton had a population of just 65,378 in 1925 and grew to 87,034 by time he moved to Lake Isle in 1937.
Frank’s first source of income was as a young trapper. He would trap muskrats on Lake Isle in the winter and spring and shoot red squirrels during the winter when their fur was prime. Squirrels were as high as $1 each in the ‘30’s. He could shoot enough squirrels on a good day to earn the equivalent of what a laborer could earn on the job. Frank was only 14 when WW II broke out. He went as far as Grade 10 at Hill Top School located a little over 1 mile west of his home. He enjoyed socializing with the Smith, Ambrose, and Hansen families and many others in the Lake Isle district. Frank helped out on the farm and did odd jobs, such as logging, before he joined the RCMP.
He left the farm in 1946 to join the RCMP and received his training in Regina and Rockliff. He was a member of the first RCMP musical ride, re-formed after the war, and tells of having to go out to Ft. Walsh to round up some horses and put them on a box car to be sent to Depot in Regina for training. RCMP duty involved keeping an eye on the “moonshiners” and under cover tailing of crooks on buses and trains as far as Boston, Massachusetts. Frank’s time in the RCMP took him to postings in Yorkton, SK., St. Stephen, NB, and Whitehorse in the Yukon. While stationed in Whitehorse, Frank met Jean Hoover. They were married in 1950 in Dawson Creek, B.C., Jean’s hometown.
Music played a big part in Frank’s life. He learned to play the guitar before he was 12 and bought a Gibson in 1947 which he kept all his life. Sometime later he added the banjo to his repertoire. In the Maritimes, he played kitchen parties with the famous Hank Snow. About 1947 Hank said to him “Frank, ditch that monkey suit and come with me to Nashville, we’ll hit it big”. Frank just laughed it off as “party talk”. Hank Snow of course did go to Nashville, in 1949, and stayed there for the rest of his life recording 7 number one hits and eventually being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in both the U.S. and Canada. Frank? He was transferred to Whitehorse.
He also spent a short time again on the farm between leaving the RCMP and joining the City of Edmonton Police Department. During that time Frank worked in the oilfield driving a truck for Dowell and carried a hod for Burgess Brothers Plastering & Stucco Co.
Frank joined the Edmonton Police Department on October 7, 1953 working in Patrol Division. During the night shift of March 7, 1956, his cruiser was hit head on by a drunk driver coming across the Fifth Street Bridge. He sustained life threatening injuries including a broken neck, broken ribs, broken left arm and head injuries that resulted in the loss of 90% of his vision in his right eye. He was lucky pull through and after months in the hospital and WCB physiotherapy he returned to work, but not in Patrol Division. He was assigned a desk job in Central Registry where he served for many years. Towards the end of his career he helped set up a new statistics unit and had to learn some basic computer programming in order to talk to “FRED” the computer over at City Hall.
Frank spent a total of 30 years with the RCMP and City of Edmonton Police and retired in 1979. After retirement, he worked briefly for son Dale as Security Patrol Officer on Bavaria South Peace Farms near Dawson Creek, BC. He and Jean moved to Lake Isle in 1980 where he resided until 2015. He lived in the Good Samaritan Care Centre in Stony Plain for the last 4 years of his life.
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