Francis ‘Frank’ Bridges, age 90 of Austin, died Tuesday, February 28 at the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Albert Lea. Frank was born on August 21, 1926 in Sioux City, Iowa to Francis Arnold and Susie (Uphamy) Bridges. The family lived in Sioux City for many years before relocating to St. James, Minnesota, where Frank’s father worked for the railroad. In 1944, Frank graduated from Saint James High School and went directly into service for the World War II effort. He was stationed at a U.S Army base in Honolulu, Hawaii until the war ended. Upon his return home, Frank attended Morningside College in Sioux City, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in English. It was there that he met and married his first wife, Frances Lundell. Shortly after they both were hired as teachers in Storden, Minnesota, Frances was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. She died not long after giving birth to the couple’s son, Thomas. A few years later, Frank met and married his second wife, Carol Anderson. They were both teachers in Pipestone, Minnesota at the time. They were married for 60 years and together had two daughters, Jane and Mary. Frank and Carol moved to Austin with their three young children when Frank accepted a position at Austin High School. While teaching there, he slowly worked toward a master’s degree during summer sessions at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. He obtained his master’s degree in Speech and Theatre in 1961. He also completed additional credits in other advanced courses from the U of M. In 1962, Frank was hired by Austin State Junior College (now Riverland) where he was employed until his retirement in 1989. During his tenure there, he taught courses in Speech, Theatre, and Philosophy. He also was the Director of Theatre, a job he loved dearly. One of his notable accomplishments was the creation of the Summerset Theatre program, which is celebrating its 50th year this summer. In 1992, Frank was greatly honored when the college officially changed the name of the theatre to the Frank W. Bridges Theatre. He was always quick to point out that the contributions of many people made the theatre a success, including faculty, students, actors, actresses, friends, and family. In post-retirement, Frank continued to be active by giving lectures to various groups in the community, including the Mower County Historical Society, the Austin Senior Center, and student groups at Riverland. More recently, he taught a course in Logic to students at Pacelli High School.
Survivors include his son, Thomas (Sharon) Bridges of Austin; daughter, Jane (Ray) Grund of Albert Lea; daughter, Mary (Rick) Orpen of St. Peter; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, wives Frances and Carol, and a sister Vera.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at St. Augustine Catholic Church. There will be a visitation from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 3 at Worlein Funeral Home and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Interment with military honors will be in the Grandview Cemetery in Austin. Memorials can be directed to the Frank W. Bridges Theatre for student scholarships in memory of Frank. Worlein Funeral Home of Austin is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.worlein.com.