(Jan. 19/15) Over the past few days it has been emotional and uplifting to be reminded what a privilege it was to be able to say Bill Frank was my friend. I first met Bill when I was being mentored by the late Ernie Edwards.
Anyone who has come in contact with Bill knows he always put every part of himself into everything he did – work, family or hobbies. Once you were lucky enough to be brought into his world, you were there forever, and he took ownership of his role in your life. When you think of many people, you might list off things you knew of them, or you might think of them in terms of black and white images. In Bill’s case, you could only thing of him as a full colour movie. Thinking of him in the past week has been a flood of images – lots of laughs, lots of serious discussions, lots of naive actions by him, and through it all love of his family and those in his circle of friends.
Early in our foodservice careers, we were both encouraged to tithe our time and talents to our industry, and our community. As Bill would say, he wasn’t really bright, and his idea of tithing in this regard was to give back 20% or 30% for every working hour. He embraced all things and associations that helped his co-workers and the industry he loved. He served on countless boards and committees in Canada and the USA, starting at the local and provincial levels and most notably left major legacies with the APEX Trade Show, as well as CRFA/Restaurants Canada.
Some of the highlights from, his more than 30 years’ experience in the food service industry. He started in a part time job as a bus boy in the late 1960’s with Edwards Fine Food Limited and rose to the office of President. This was a well-diversified and respected foodservice organization with more than 30 units and 500 employees. It included quick service and fine dining restaurants, food concessions and a bakery.
As noted earlier, Bill was active in the industry throughout his entire professional career, both at the local as well as national levels. He served as Chairman of the Board for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association in 1987. Other posts he held in that organization included Chairman of Government Affairs, dealing one on one with the political system and other trade and industry associations; Chairman of Expositions and Conventions, providing oversight for one of Canada’s top trade shows; Chairman of Education, providing leadership in bringing in some commonality to industry standards. He was also actively involved in helping rebuild CRFA’s strategic plan as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. He continued his association with the industry as an Honorary Director on CRFA’s Board. He also served as an International Director with the National Restaurant Association in Washington DC for 4 years.
Locally, he served as a director of the Nova Scotia Restaurant Association for many years. He also presided over the development of Apex, Atlantic Provinces Hotel Motel and Foodservices Association Exposition Restaurant Trade Show as its lay President for over 10 years. During this time he took the show to a well-respected position as the third largest foodservice trade show in all of Canada.
Over the past few days people have described him as being passionate, a fighter, a great personality, a person of huge organizational skills, his commitment saw it as his duty to make things better, and people talked of his candor, but yet his word being his strength. The only cost of being a friend of Bill’s was being acknowledged by receipt of his Christmas letter. It was wonderful to be included in his network, but seven to eight pages was a challenge at a busy time of the year!
Bill’s family shared his passions; he leaves his wife, Ellen McKay, along with his children, Jason, Michael, Sarah and Christina, and the 15 grandchildren he loved to dote upon.
– Tribute by Christopher Rusted
“Bill lived and worked with a fierce passion driving his determination to do things right and well, whether it was in business, in charity work, or associations including Restaurants Canada, formerly CRFA. I am very glad to have known Bill and had him as a friend. He set a very fine example in so many ways.”
– Griff Tripp
“Bill always made us aware of our duty to make things better. Those of us who had the privilege to work with him loved Bill for his candor. What you saw is what you got. You could trust him. Bill will be remembered fondly and I feel honoured to have known him.”
– Bill Vernon