Albert Frank passed away at his home in Concrete, in the loving arms of his family at 9:45 P.M. on December 15, 2007. He was 93 years old.
He was born on February 28, 1914 to Rafaela and Gaetano Francomano, at home, in the "Little Italy" section of Concrete. The town had been recently renamed "Concrete" to replace "Baker," because the Superior Portland Cement Company was the main employer in that bustling little community. Many of his relatives worked for that company. Not long after, his father shortened the family name; it was not a legal issue, and not just for an easier pronunciation and spelling, but also to embrace this new country. His Father Gaetano came to this country via Ellis Island in 1907 and his wife, Rafaela and daughter, Teresa followed later.
Albert attended Concrete Grade School and Concrete High School, where he was Student Body President, and played sports, most notably football, when leather pads and helmets were the norm. He was a tough little Italian. Short in stature, perhaps, but he made up for that in strength of mind and body. He graduated with the class of 1932. During his high school years, Albert met Harriette Larsen, a little girl from Van Horn, a town just three miles east of Concrete. She was the daughter of a Danish pioneer family. She left town after graduation to work, and became engaged to another young fellow. Well, to shorten the story, this enraged Albert. He went to get her and bring her back! She often tells the story of their "wedding" at the courthouse in Mount Vernon on August 7th, 1937. His mother and sister came along as witnesses. Harriette says that "stereotypical Italian Mama" fixed her with that stern stare as if to say "You be good to my boy!!!" Harriette got the drift! And, moments after the "ceremony" they came home to Concrete, and Albert went to work for the rest of the day!! “A honeymoon?” Unheard of! There was work to do. And work, she did! Throughout her life, Harriette has been his "one-man cheering squad," and they worked side by side for 57 years. Albert went to work in the woods after graduation. Logging or the Cement Plant was about the only options for a Concrete boy.'
In 1948, he purchased Van Horn Service, a little store and gas station in Van Horn. Two sons were born to them, Richard, and then Michael, two years later.
    He ran the store while Harriette had two little boys at home, just down the road from the store, where they have resided for all these years. Soon, the boys were old enough to go along, and she joined him at work in the store, "for just a while." Well, she is still working at age 91, but she doesn't go as early as she used to!! Albert and Harriette had a strict work ethic. The family rule was, and still is: If you are not in the hospital, or dead, you go to work!!" You could set your clock by his schedule. He did everything every day at the same time, the same day of the week, etc. He was a "clock-watcher" and collected clocks as well. He liked to repair them too.
    In 1958, he built a new store west of Concrete, at the current location of Albert's Red Apple Market. Over the years the building was rebuilt [1973] and several times remodeled. It began as Serve-U, then Family Grocer, and is now a Red Apple Market. Albert was a long-time member of Associated Grocers.
He knew all the children in town, and took great delight in seeing them daily. Many of those same children were in the groups that walked down to the store from school to celebrate his 90th birthday.
    Albert was a member of the Concrete Eagles and the Concrete Fire Department. He was also a Fire Commissioner, and helped to organize Fire District 10, which is Grassmere and Birdsview Fire Departments. Somehow, in the early days, he actually took time off from the store to coach his son's Little League baseball team, with his nephew, Armond Bianchini. He also coached the town basketball team, the "Night-hawks," from l948-1951. Dave Wright, an old friend, and employee, remembers being on that team, and also that they won the championship in 1948 and 1949.
    Albert loved his little town beyond reason, and was always supportive of community and school activities - anything for the kids! Albert loved his family unconditionally. He had always wanted a little girl, and when his granddaughters were born, he was ecstatic. Not that all those boys weren't welcomed! He had four grandsons and they were all taller than he was by the time they were twelve! He helped raise them at the store, and wheeled them around in a grocery cart. They worked for him at the store during their school years, and learned the "hard work" ethic that became the family legacy early on. Sometimes, things didn't go just right in the city, and his girls would come home to tell "Papa." Even when they were grown, they would sit on his lap to tell him of the trouble, and he would say "Just move home. I will take care of you." And partly because of the family legacy, they all squared their shoulders and moved on, after his example, because that is what we do. He was so proud of their successes! He was a "softie" and they all knew it. It became tradition-he bought the first dance dress, for the girls, and for most of them, their first car! And college tuition help was not out of the realm. He was the most generous person to his family. Part Santa Claus, part "Daddy Warbucks," and he loved doing it!! He never needed anything for himself, and said often that the true measure of a man was what he earned for his family.
    Albert earned his by sheer will, determination, and hard work-12 hour days, seven days a week. He has never had a vacation. It is not often that a family works together and all live on the same street! Mike came back to the store after he and Vicki were married 41 years ago. Richard retired from teaching in 1985 and he and Andrea joined them in the "Family Compound" on Moen Road. The "boys" took over the store, and allowed Albert and Harriette to come to work. Sometimes that wasn't the easiest thing to do, and not on anyone's part!!
    Albert left Albert's Red Apple on the night of September 27th, never to return. These last three months have been difficult for this family. Albert wanted his life to end at home, and we honored that wish. Richard and Mike have been the most devoted of sons. Their tender care of their father has been wonderful to see. They have done it all for him, and gladly.
The family extends a heartfelt thank-you to the "Visiting Angels," especially Fritzi, P.J., and Barb, the "regulars." Also to Skagit Hospice, and everyone that visited, inquired and helped us through this time. We couldn't have done it without you.
    Albert is survived by his devoted wife of 70 years, Harriette; two sons, Richard and his wife Andréa, and Michael and his wife Vicki; six grandchildren, Richard D. Frank, Patrick Olsen, Dianne Aamot and her husband Doug, Michael W. Frank and his wife Kimberly, Danielle Frank and Joseph Albert Frank. He had seven great-grandchildren.
    He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Amelia and Teresa, brothers, Patrick and his beloved Adolph, and a much loved nephew, Armond Bianchini. How many times we have watched the nightly ritual: The little man flips the light switches, goes to the outside door and watches all of the employees exit, locks the door and turns the "open" signs over-Albert's Red Apple is officially closed. Rest in Peace, Dad. You've earned it.
Graveside Services will be held at the Forest Park Cemetery in Concrete on Wednesday, Decem¬ber 19,2007 at 1:00 PM with Pastor Marcus Stroud of Shepherd of The Hills Lutheran Church officiating. A fellowship will followed at the C.C.D. Center in Concrete.
    Visitation is available at and services under the direction of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.
Memorials are suggested to the Albert Frank Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Summit Bank in Concrete. Share memories of Albert and sign the online guest register at
Reprinted from Albert Franks obituary, written by Vicky Frank. All photos courtesy of the Frank family.










Albert & Harriette buy Van Horn Service from Harriette's parents



Al Frank Plans Grasmere Store

The upper valley is to have a new marketing center. The wild rumors of the past month of practically a new town at Grasmere have boiled down to the fact that there will be a new genera) store, of the« price-competitive type. That is all — for the present.
The site is now being prepared just east of the Drake shake mill on the south side of highway 17-A by John Soloman, the 60x100 foot building will be built by his brother, Jimmy, of Seattle, and the building has been leased for occupancy by Albert Frank of Van Horn. The new building is scheduled to be ready by July 1st.
    Albert Frank who now operates the Van Horn Service station and grocery, revealed that he would install a modern food shopping center based on latest merchandising ideas and operating on a competitive price margin. He hopes to incorporate into the new store the latest styles in fixtures and displays. Almost the entire building will be used as a roomy shopping area. Merchandise will be moved directly from delivery trucks to the counters, rather than use a lot of space for storage room.
    Mr. Frank also stated that no super-service station is planned in the immediate future, although gas pumps will be operated along with the store.
    The Van Horn store will be kept open and operated as a branch of the larger establishment.
A nine to twelve foot deep fill was required at the site to bring the level up to that of the highway. This work is being completed this week. As soon as the ground is ready, work will be started on the building.
Concrete Herald Feb. 20, 1958


Albert Frank’s new Associated Grocers store at Grasmere is now beginning to show up in the way it will appear on its opening – now set for June 26th [1958]. The main part of the building is done and installation of fixtures is going ahead rapidly. The interior is a combination of natural wood paneling and yellow and burgundy paint.
    Across the rear of the store, the entire length of the building, will be frozen food and refrigeration cabinets. A meat department will include showcases and a separate cutting room from which direct access will be made to the cold storage locker. The locker will also have a compartment and separate access for the vegetable and produce department.
    Down the center of the main store room will be three long islands for food display. The check counters will be at the front, just inside the main entrance. The rear of the store, blocked off by walls and counters, will house the warehouse and checking space, office, refrigeration and utility rooms.
    Opening of the new store will bring the upper valley its largest food shopping center, and one that appears to be in every respect equal to those in the lower valley towns. Associated Grocers will completely stock the store with the initial inventory and will handle the advertising of the weekly prices with the same schedule of ads used by AG stores elsewhere.
    The building has been built by Jimmy and Jack Soloman and is being leased to Mr. Frank for his store. Ample parking space has been provided just off the main highway around the building. The word is that the new store will be called “Albert’s”.


Serve-U Store Opens Doors

Albert’s Serve-U store at Grasmere opened quietly this week and is now undergoing a “shakedown cruise” as the crew gets used to the big store, the checking counters and the procedure of a supermarket operation.
    The official opening will come next week end with the “Grand Opening”, planned for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In the meantime the stocking of the store will be completed and the operation streamlined for the rush hours expected on weekends ahead.
    Work of stocking the store has been going on for a week and is not expected to be completed until the first of next week. Al Frank reports that the inventory lists over 3,000 items at the present, not counting the produce and fresh meat items. It will be the largest grocery store in the entire upper valley.
    A quick check of food items reveals a wide variety of well-known brands in almost every line. The long line of freezer counters contain supplies of meats, cheeses, fresh produce, dairy products, frozen foods of all kinds and beverages. The center part of the store has long aisles of packaged goods and canned items. There is also an ice cream and frozen candy counter and a drug and cosmetic display.
On the check stands are Gertrude Bitonti and Laura Brown. Al Frank will handle the fresh meat department, Harriette and the boys will have charge of shelf stocking and other details.






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