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Frank Grandel

 Frank Grandel was a Branford native, born in Stony Creek the youngest of 11 children. He lived in Branford all his life. Frank attended Branford High School, where his interest in sports would lead him to the diamond. He played second base on the Hornets varsity baseball team all four years. He graduated from BHS in 1941, and shortly after enlisted in the US Army serving in the Special Signal Forces in England, and later Germany.   He was honorably discharged in 1946. He enrolled in Arnold College in Bridgeport under the GI Bill.  He entered the Health and Physical Education program, graduating in 1949. Frank returned to his hometown to work as the Director of Physical Education for the elementary schools. By 1956, he added the duties of assistant football coach with legendary Dom Cote. Frank would eventually help out on the sidelines with the basketball team and Hall of Famer Stan Petela .To complete his BHS coaching resume he returned to the Hammer Field diamond ,and spent 10 years with fellow Hall of Famer Gerry Crotty.

 

        Frank went on to earn a master’s degree in social studies from NYU. He joined the BHS faculty in 1958 as a history teacher and driver’s ed instructor. He eventually moved up to the administrative staff where he served as Assistant Principal from 1977-1989. Retiring from teaching in 1990.  

 

            Frank’s contribution to Branford sports came to the forefront when he took the reigns of the local semi pro team, the Branford Townies. In an era where Hammer Field was the mecca for sports in Branford, and local residents took pride in their hometown heroes. The Townies played in the shadows of the Malleable Iron Fittings and Atlantic Wire factories. Frank served as manager and coach, stressing sportsmanship and hard play from his team. Always the teacher, he took meticulous notes on his players in the hopes of correcting weaknesses during practice .and his hard work paid off. The Townies would eventually take their league championship and lose a close 1-0 decision to Rhode Island in the New England Championships. Frank was a striking personality on and off the field and got the most from his players and they got the most from him. On occasions he would bring the Townies on barnstorming trips to Vermont. Frank would later continue his interest with baseball as President of the Shoreline Baseball League and even served as a scout for the Cleveland Indians in 1954.     He he was a devoted lifelong Yankees fan, spanning the era from Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio to Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter. He had season tickets at Yankee Stadium throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

        But the greatest legacy to the town he loved, were the countless numbers of Branford’s youth who were influenced by Frank as a teacher, coach and administrator. With his quick wit , smile and caring ways Frank Grandel had a lasting impact on generations of young people in Branford. Upon his retirement from the Branford School System, Frank would work with ex-offenders returning to the workforce as a part of Project More. He continued to work in the program until the age of 92. 

 

       Frank was married to his wife Nancy for 52 years, and is survived by his daughters, Gigi, Mallie, Vicky and Suzanne, and five grandchildren.

 

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