Column/The loss of an American patriot

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2007

Frank Leutner died last week.

That name probably won’t mean anything to most of you, but I was saddened to learn of his death.

Frank was an 80-something- year-old Summerdale man, retired as the town’s postmaster.

Email newsletter signup

He was a World War II veteran, and throughout his life never forgot the principles he had fought to preserve.

Frank regularly wrote letters to the editor at the newspaper where I previously worked.

He often came by the office to bring his letters, or to bring copies of articles he had from various political magazines. He was an avid reader and political writers like Ann Coulter and Bay Buchanan were among his favorites to quote.

Frank’s conversations often were long, and on deadline that could be problematic. Still, I always enjoyed visiting with him (the fact that he brought satsumas, pears and pecans from his yard to the office staff was a plus).

But, I also learned a lot from Frank.

This was a man who subscribed to the Congressional Record. And actually read it.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Congressional Record gives the play-by-play of action in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. You can read the deliberations and find out how each member voted.

Frank read it and watched the actions of elected officials carefully, primarily because he believed public officials should earn the salaries paid by taxpayer dollars.

And he believed in holding them accountable to stick to their word and make decisions that benefited their constituents.

His top issues were veteran services, Social Security and the military. He also wrote letters on immigration, dereliction of duty by some lawmakers and healthcare concerns.

Truth is, I didn’t know that much about him.

His wife had died many years earlier, yet he still spoke of her affectionately with obvious devotion.

He was Catholic and his faith was important to him. But, he also didn’t mind pointing out when the church should have been disappointed with their leadership.

On a personal level, that’s about all I knew. But I did know that Frank was a true patriot.

He was old-school. Government should be transparent. Officials should truly be public servants – with an emphasis on serving the public.

A conservative, Frank was far right of Republican, tending to be more of an independent nature. He probably would have been aligned with Libertarians if it wasn’t for the marijuana issue.

Some might have considered his zeal as an obsession.

He told me many times that his living room was so full of magazines, articles, letters and books he couldn’t find a place to sit.

Still, he stuck to his guns, spoke his mind and was always “keeping them honest.”

And he wasn’t doing it for himself. I doubt Frank ever thought he’d see a drastic change in the way things have become. He did it because he believed in the principles of our government. And that those principles can continue to work to benefit our citizenry.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.