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Frank Holmes Ware Obituary


A quotation Frank Ware kept on his desk expresses what was perhaps, the guiding principle of his belief system:  “Nothing exists that so fills and binds the hearts as love does.” Umberto Eco.  The quotation is etched into a picture frame containing an image of Frank and the love of his life, wife Lorraine Hoover, on the Jersey shore of Cape May, their special place.  Lorri died October 10, 2010.  Frank joined her on another beautiful shore on Sunday, February 13, the eve of Valentine’s Day.

Frank Holmes Ware was born in Hammonton, NJ, on December 8, 1946, the eldest of seven children of Virginia Thibult and Frank H. Ware II.  His brothers describe a boisterous working-class upbringing in a crowded two-bedroom house in the tiny town of Nesco, nestled in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey.  Father Frank was a foreman on the Atlantic City Expressway and mother Virginia was kept busy raising children.  Young Frank was the family jokester and storyteller, often scaring his younger siblings with gruesome tales and pranks inspired by the mythical “Jersey Devil” of local legend.  Educated in a two-room school house in Nesco, Frank went on to be an academic star at Oakcrest High School, where he was president of Student Council and from which he graduated in 1965.  The most adventurous of the Ware clan, Frank left New Jersey to attend William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, earning a BA in English with minors in psychology and history.  He subsequently earned his MSW from the University of Iowa.  In the last 1970s, his compassion for people led him to a job at Lynwood, a substance abuse treatment center in Davenport.  There, he met Lorraine Hoover, an educator and trainer in psychiatric rehabilitation.  Together they spent their careers providing hope and support for recovery to individuals suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.  Their work took them to Rock Island in 1981 and they worked at a group home called Alliance for the Mentally Ill for Rock Island and Mercer Counties.  “They fought for people,” Lorraine’s daughter Courtney said.  “They got to know the people and they really cared about them.”  The greatest challenge of the time was finding housing and services for people with mental illness who were being released from mental institutions.  Building a network of care became Frank’s lifelong passion.  When he came to Janet Wattles Center on February 13, 1989, the agency was on the brink of financial ruin.  As President/CEO for 22 years, Frank turned the organization around.  When Janet Wattles affiliated with Rosecrance Health Network on January 1, 2011, Frank became Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Mental Health Services for the organization.  Through the year, he was honored with many professional accolades and eagerly and ably served on many national, state and local boards and councils.  He also was an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Iowa.  Frank was comfortable with and accepting of people who were social casualties, people who had fallen out of the mainstream because of drugs and alcohol or mental illness.  He was a visionary for mental health services, a respected administrator and leader of national stature.  Friends and colleagues alike say it was Frank’s loving, accepting nature that imbued his professional career with meaning and compelled him to treat everyone with dignity.

He is survived by his daughter Courtney Oertel of Rockford; siblings Nancy (Bob) Pelekoski of Ocean City, NJ, Martha A. Ware and David L. (Michele) Ware of Hammonton, NJ, Estella V. Domenico, William R. Ware and Robert C. (Linda) Ware, all of Nesco, sister-in-law Lavonne (Dan) Johnston and brother-in-law Terry (Jenny) Hoover, all of Davenport, IA, nieces and nephews Crystal Domenico, David and Michael Ware, James Ryan and William Domenico, all of Nesco; Christian (Tanya) Ware of Winnebago, Nikki Kerr, Mikaela Hoover; Jim Hoover and Leila Lorraine Deaver, all of Davenport.  In addition to Lorraine, he was predeceased by his parents.  Mother-in-law Ardeth Hoover passed away on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

(From the program for Frank’s memorial service on Friday, February 18, 2011.)

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