Frank Louis Morelli
Frank Louis Morelli was a family man with seven children; therefore he was a working man who often held two jobs. And then he retired, again, and again, and again.
On April 23, 1922 Marietta and Ralph Morelli welcomed a bundle of love into their hearts and into the Italian community of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Frank was a first generation American born to an Italian tailor father and a silk spinner mother. He had two older sisters Gina (Morelli) Cecceralli and Emma (Morelli) Eckholt.
Italian was spoken at home, so Frank learned English as a second language his first year in school. Discipline was strict in school and the nuns would grab disruptive students by their hair, Frank earned the nickname "Pilato", named after Pontius Pilot, for his short, close-cropped hair worn that way so they couldn't catch him.
One time, for discipline, his teacher instructed Frank to hold out his hand, she borrowed a ruler from the student sitting behind him and broke the ruler over Frank's hand. The student was his cousin Adele Morelli and the teacher told her that Frank would pay for her ruler, knowing that her father would talk to Frank's father about the problem in class.
Frank always loved animals. One time he came home with a new "pet" and asked his mother "it followed me home; can I keep it?" His mother said, "take the horse back where you found him!" Later in life he would own "Nanette" the goat, "Gerty" the cow, "Paca" the goat, and many other cows, goats, chickens, ducks, banties, cats and dogs.
He and his cousin Tony Domenici were on stage dressed in Pierrot clown costumes for the opening of the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque on September 19, 1927.
He played violin in the Youth Orchestra of Albuquerque. Elisa plays that same violin. Last week, while listening to Elisa playing his violin, he raised his arm in bow position and began to "play" once more.
At thirteen, Frank drove a truck for his uncle between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, delivering beer.
Throughout his life Frank's best friends were his sisters and cousins whom he kept in contact until their passing. Dante, Charlie, Teresa, and Mariangela Menicucci were very close to Frank as their mothers were sisters, and their paternal grandmothers were sisters. And all had great-grandparents named Morelli. Charlie was more of a brother to Frank than a cousin. The last surviving member of that generation is Charlie's wife Emma Menicucci.
Following High School in Albuquerque, Frank migrated to Los Angeles and started working for MacDonald Plastics in 1940. Frank loved to go to the Paladium for dancing. When the first freeway was built in California in 1940, Frank and his cousin Bobby Giaciapuzzi drove the Pasadena freeway the night before it opened.
Frank joined the Army Air Corps October 1942 and served for the duration of World War II. Frank was inducted at Presidio of Monterey, after 1 or 2 days they put the recruits on a train. When they stopped at Gila Bend, Arizona everyone got off for a rest break and the train left. The recruits built an Army base there for aerial gunnery training. Frank was a flight crew leader maintaining AT-6 advanced trainers for pilot training in Gila Bend, Arizona, Kessler Field, Mississippi, and San Antonio, Texas.
His cousin Bobby convinced Frank to go to church camp at Big Bear Lake where the boys and girls had separate cottages, when the girls asked for help lighting their fire. Frank and Bobby went to help, and Frank met the love of his life, Mary Helen Fitzgerald.
After they met, Helen was going camping to Yosemite Park with her brother Ralph's family. Frank and his sister Gina took a trip to Yosemite and "ran into" Helen.
When Frank took Helen to meet his parents for the first time, heat caused the family wine barrel to overflow and the wine was running down the drive into the street.
Frank and Helen were married January 10, 1948 in Alhambra, California. Ten months later, the first of their seven children, Catherine Nicole, was born. David, Michael, Lorraine, Gerard, and Thomas were born before they moved to Oregon, where Elisa was born.
Frank and Helen were devout Roman Catholics. Over time they helped build the new parish church at the San Gabriel Mission California, Our Lady of Lourdes first parish church in Ontario, California and the new Saint Matthews parish church in Hillsboro, Oregon.
In California Frank worked for the Post Office, with part-time jobs in printing and as a fireman.
Frank wanted to move to Oregon and got a transfer to Roseburg. He arrived just after the explosion that destroyed the downtown and his job. So, Frank moved to Hillsboro where Helen's sister, Darlene, lived. They bought five acres South of Hillsboro at Midway and started to raise milk and meat to feed his family.
Frank worked for Tektronix in their plastics department and rose to the rank of manager. While there Frank also started his own plastics company in the cow-barn behind his home at Midway and called it Morelli's Q & D Plastics. When asked, Frank explained that the customer had the option, "Q & D stands for 'Quick and Dirty' or 'Quality and Delivery'".
Frank loved to fly, and bought his own airplane, "Patches", an Interstate Cadet, that was parked at the Twin Oaks Air Park near his home at Midway. Frank would call David at "Q & D" for a weather report and if it was good, he would stop at the airport for a quick flight on his way home from work.
The molding business could not expand in the cow barn, so a new building was built in Forest Grove. Frank, Helen, David and his wife Jo ran the business until 1990. At one time or another every member of the family (except Nicole) worked for Q & D.
Frank and Helen moved to Cornelius in 1982. When they sold the house in 2012 the cleaning tag on the curtains still read 1982. Frank retired from Tektronix and worked for Q&D. He liked to visit customers and "yak-yak". Frank wanted to retire from Q&D, so the business was sold in 1991. Frank continued to visit Q&D to offer technical support.
Frank and Helen took a cruise to Alaska. This was one of their most memorable trips. Frank and Helen took a flight and cruise to New Zealand and Tasmania. Frank was especially taken by the "goonie" birds that spent long hours in the air over the ocean.
In 2000, Frank and Helen went to Albuquerque to visit Charlie and Emma Menicucci. The four of them were riding in a car when Helen fell silent mid-sentence, Emma recognized it as a stroke, they did an immediate U-turn, and they got to the Emergency Room within minutes which saved her life. Helen was disabled by the stroke and Frank served as her primary caregiver for almost seventeen years. Prior to selling their home in Cornelius in 2012, they moved to senior living facilities and moved several times. They moved to Scotts Valley, California October 2010 to be close to their oldest daughter Nicole, and to the ocean. They remained there for five years until they decided to return to Oregon and the majority of their children and all of the grandchildren in 2016. Due to Helen's condition, they flew back in a medical equipped Lear Jet from San Jose, California to Hillsboro, Oregon. Frank enjoyed the flight.
They settled into Jennings McCall Assisted Living center, where they found compassionate care that served both of them well for their final years. Helen passed away October 2017.
Much of the family gathered in Forest Grove on a beautiful, warm Spring Day in April 2022 to celebrate Frank's 100th birthday
After several weeks with visits and calls from his family, Frank received his wish when he passed away in his sleep April 2, 2023. Frank had waited five and a half years to join Helen.
Frank is survived by his loving children, Nicole Morelli (Jim), David Morelli (Mary Jo), Mike Workman-Morelli (Linda), Lorraine (Dan), Gerry Morelli (Helen) Tom Morelli (Karen), and Elisa Morelli Hobbs, 15 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. Also, many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, and the families of his cousins.