Thomas Froncek, 66: Author, explorer who delighted in doing good

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

PORTLAND — Thomas Froncek, 66, died July 8.

On July 30, 1942, he was born in Milwaukee, son of Alice and Walter Froncek.

While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison he worked as a stringer for the Milwaukee Journal. After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he moved to London where he worked as a reporter for The Tablet and for the London bureau of Time Magazine. He later earned a master’s degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury.

He had numerous memorable experiences while in London, which included attending a press conference for Martin Luther King Jr., standing deathwatch at Winston Churchill‘s funeral, calling to John Paul Getty’s home pay phone, and asking Tallulah Bankhead why she called everyone darling. She responded, “I don’t call everyone darling.”

His opportunities in London led to a reporting job for Life Magazine. Subsequently, he moved to New York City, where he met his wife, Ellen Kahn, and later welcomed a son, Jesse. He worked as an editor for American Heritage Magazine, and spent 25 years at Reader’s Digest, becoming managing editor for select editions.

An avid explorer, he loved to hike and garden, and developed a passion for sailing later in life. He wrote several books, including “A Splendid Madness: a man, a boat, a love story,” and had a great appreciation for art.

An active community member, he volunteered for nine years at Jewish Family Services of Rockland County, and also served on the board of his synagogue, Temple Beth El of Portland, where he headed the adult learning committee. He was a member of the Association of American Publishers right to publish committee, and a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

His family will remember him as a beloved husband, father, son and brother.

He was predeceased by his daughter-in-law Linda.

Surviving are his wife, Ellen, of Portland; his son and daughter-in-law, Jesse and April, both of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his mother, Alice, of Hudson, Wis.; his sister and brother-in-law, Joyce and Richard Law, of Hudson, Wis., and his brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Dee, of Milwaukee.

Funeral services will held on Friday, July 10 at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Putnam Valley, N.Y.

Arrangements are by The Jewish Funeral Home, Portland.