Shared by his family, here’s the “larger than life” life story of Frank Novito, whose memorial service is planned for next Saturday at Holy Rosary Church:
Frank Novito, a lifelong resident of West Seattle, died peacefully at Providence Mt. St. Vincent on March 7, 2014.
Frank was born to Joseph and Mary Novito, who had immigrated from Italy, and true to the American Dream, owned several successful dry-cleaning businesses in the West Seattle and Morgan Street Junctions. Frank attended Lafayette, James Madison, and West Seattle High School.
While still a student, Frank would ride his bike down to Alki to work at Lloyd’s Boathouse before school every morning, and then back up Fairmount Avenue to WSHS for his classes. He quickly became known among Lloyd’s customers for his fishing prowess out in Elliott Bay, and became a favorite of those who wanted to know where the “prime” fishing spots were. He had many stories to tell of near-misses with ferries in the dense fog.
After high school, Frank went to work as a riveter at Boeing, and just like in the movies, he met his bride-to-be, Helen Gembolis, who was his “bucker.” They married in 1944 and had three children, Wanda, Gail and Ralph, all who attended Holy Rosary School. He served in the Army until the war ended, when “Old Mr. Fiedler” took a shine to Frank and offered him a sales job at Gene Fiedler Chevrolet, where Frank sold cars for over 40 years, often ranking as the top salesman in the entire Pacific Northwest. Frank had enduring friendships with many return customers.
In 1952 Frank purchased a cabin on Dabob Bay near Quilcene, which continues to be a cherished gathering place for his family.
All his life Frank was a master fisherman, and his tables were often full with salmon, crab, shrimp, clams, oysters, and geoducks that he had caught at the cabin on Hood Canal. He had a sixth sense about just where to drop a line or put a trap. He was also a hunter, and went with a group of friends that included Phil Gai and Speed Sposari on trips in quest of pheasant, deer and elk. Frank was a longtime member of the West Seattle Sportsmen’s Club, and served as its president.
In the early 1950’s, Frank also served as the president of West Seattle Hi-Yu.
Frank gathered with business pals every morning before work for coffee at Vann Brothers Restaurant in the junction, where his portrait was one of dozens of customer portraits hanging on the walls. In 1978 the group gained some notoriety when, after the West Seattle Bridge was rammed by a passing ship, they formed the “Rump Committee for West Seattle” (a not-so-subtle play on words) and advocated secession from Seattle and the creation of an independent City of West Seattle on the peninsula. For the most part, they were just kidding — weren’t they?
Frank was a fixer and he loved to tinker. He would much prefer repairing something to replacing it, whether the item was big or small. When Frank applied a screwdriver to a carburetor, a cranky engine was quickly tamed.
Frank was a man of few words, direct in conversation, yet his speech could be whimsical and funny. If Frank had a car he thought would be good for a nephew, he would tell him the price was “wholesale wholesale.” When Frank did something for someone and the person asked how much it cost so he could repay him, Frank would indicate he did not expect repayment by replying firmly, “A dollar three eighty-five.” If he disagreed with someone, he would tilt his head and say, “You know, you’re a little goofy.”
Frank was a person who commanded respect without ever raising his voice. He was a man’s man: without show or fanfare, his love flowed to his family. He was larger than life, a patriarch. Frank was revered by his family and he will be profoundly missed.
Frank is survived by his wife of 69 years, Helen; his children Wanda (Joe Fulcher), Ralph (Debbie, deceased 2012), Gail (Wendy Harris); grandchildren Maria (Andrew Dewar), Annie (Dana DeSimone), Jeanne Fulcher, and Rachael Novito; and great-grandson Gino DeSimone; and sisters Helen Briglio and Elsie Sacco. The family would like to thank the staff at Mt. St. Vincent’s for the wonderful care Frank received for the last three years of his life. Services are scheduled for 10:30 am Saturday, March 15, at Holy Rosary in West Seattle.
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