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Frank Del Papa
Frank was a farmer until the day he died. Farming was his life. It is a life of successes and hardships, of demanding work and satisfaction, and a strong belief in God.
He was born in the Kern Lake area, south of Bakersfield, in 1928. His childhood wasn’t an easy one, as his father returned to Italy on numerous occasions, while Frank remained in America. During those times, he would enjoy his happiest days living with his Aunt Lena and uncle “Santa Maria” and his cousins. His father expected hard work from Frank, who spent more time working on the farm than he did at school. He did the work of a man at a very early age and started farming on his own at about the age of 16. He survived tough times through hard work and perseverance. While getting started, he worked for many local farmers and did a lot of custom work to help get by. He lost his leg in a farming accident when he was 37 years old. Family and friends in the community pitched in to help while he was in the hospital, but he was back to work as soon as possible and continued to be involved in the farming of a few acres of alfalfa until his last breath.
Frank was always very mechanical. He could fix anything, and he loved motors and racing. In the early years of his and Evelyn’s marriage he had a race car and was an original member of the Smokers Racing Club. He later entered the tractor-pulling arena, with several versions of his modified tractor, Alkali. He was proud to be a lifetime member of Cal Poly’s tractor pull team.
He met his wife, Evelyn Rossi, through the Italian community in Old River and they were married in 1950. Their daughter, Debi, was born on Christmas day that year, followed by their second daughter, Pati, a few years later. They moved into their house in Old River in 1956 and have lived there ever since that day.
Frank’s family was everything to him and he was happiest when they were all together. He loved his Italian heritage and was proud to be the oldest Italian left in Old River, as well as one of the very few long-time farmers left in the area. He loved having visitors stop by and always wanted them to stay longer. The family is so thankful for those visits, and also for the kindness and prayers of friends and family during this time. They are especially thankful, as was Frank, for his wonderful caregivers who have become part of the family, and his dear friend, Mike, who spent many days with him. And of course, his beloved dog, Joe.
Frank will be lovingly remembered by his wife and partner of 71 years, Evelyn, his daughter Pati, grandson Bernard Ansolabehere and wife Diana, great grandchildren Betty and Will, sister Hazel Canevari and husband Ron, and sister and brother in Italy, Joanne and Johnny Del Papa and their families.
He is preceded in death by his daughter Debi, son Frankie, and numerous other family members.
Pallbearers will be Petey J. Agalos, Adam Banducci, Alan Banducci, Antonio Banducci, Anthony Rossi, and Mike Rossi.
Honorary pallbearers will be Michael Agalos, Joe Butkiewicz, Dennis Canevari, Ronald Canevari, David Del Papa, Mark Del Papa, Stan Del Papa, Steve Del Papa, Larry Fanucchi, Steve Narducci, Darrell Roberts, Marcus Rossi, and Michael Rouw.
A Rosary service will be celebrated in memory of Frank on Thursday, October 21st. at 10:00 AM at St Francis Catholic Church, 900 H Street, in Bakersfield, immediately followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 AM. Private graveside services for family will follow. The family understands and appreciates any concerns and reluctance to attend due to COVID. They also kindly request that guests please consider the safety of all in attendance and take proper precautions.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cal Poly Tractor Pull Club, c/o BRAE Department, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 for scholarships, or your favorite charity.
To send flowers to the family in memory of Frank Del Papa, please visit our flower store.
It was truly an honor to have known Frank. I first met Frank when I was a student at Cal Poly, about 42 years ago. I remember being the Tractor Pull Track Judge (flagger) at the Bakersfield pull, when Frank ran his 3-engine tractor into the dirt pile at the end of the track (of course, after a "full pull"). Frank immediately looked at me and said in a very slow, calm voice "I sure do put on a good show, don't I?"—all this even though he had just blown one of the three engines. Being the competitor that he was, he took his tractor to the pits, removed the bad engine, and entered the "pull-off" with only two engines. Needless to say, he won the pull-off, in front of a huge crowd that waited extra time for the showdown.
I always thought to myself, if I ever became a tractor puller, I wanted to be like Frank Del Papa—not because he was a legendary puller, but because of the type of person he was.
Rest in peace, my friend!
Mark Zohns Oct 15 2021 12:56 AM