Leroy J. Frnka, age 88, of Columbus, Texas, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022 (All Soul’s Day) in Houston, Texas, at Methodist West Hospital after living an exceptional life.
He was born in El Campo, Texas, on Sept. 22, 1934, to Frank W. Frnka and Laura Kosler Frnka, the second child (but first son) in a family of six children. He attended school in Garwood, Texas, where he excelled academically and played in every sport the school offered including basketball and six-man football where he was a running back. He excelled in academics, graduated salutatorian of his class and received a scholarship to play football at Trinity University in San Antonio. Unfortunately, due to family financial commitments, he was unable to attend and continued to support his family of four younger siblings. He started working at the Garwood Food Market in the sixth grade and continued to work there upon graduation until being drafted into the Army during the Korean War. Mr. Clarence Frels, co-owner of the Garwood Food Market, became his mentor, guiding and instilling the values of work, honor and love in his formative years. Their friendship lasted until the passing of Mr. Frels and his wife, Viola.
Leroy was drafted into the Army in July 1953, took basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and was later assigned to Headquarters Battalion 34th AAA Bn. (Gun) 99mm Static in Fort Totten, New York. He was discharged in 1954 to assist his family during their time of financial need. He returned to Garwood to work at Garwood Food Market until 1956 when he moved to Bay City, where he became distribution warehouse foreman at Groce Wearden Wholesale Grocery.
He began his career with the Bay City Post Office in 1957 as a distribution clerk and worked his way up the ladder until he was appointed postmaster in February 1978. He also served as a troubleshooter for the Houston Postal District, officer-in-charge for the Palacios Post Office for six months, and did numerous financial audits for the Houston District while still postmaster in Bay City. Leroy received a Meritorious Award for conserving over 3,500 hours of sick leave and upon his retirement was awarded one year and eight months of service added to his service time due to accumulative sick leave, giving him 38 ½ years of service.
Leroy was very active in his community as a member of the Lions Club, treasurer of the Little League Baseball program, president of the Teen-Age baseball program, instrumental in getting the Babe Ruth program started in Bay City and appointed director of the East Texas Babe Ruth Baseball District. As his grandsons grew up and were on the Westlake Chaps baseball team, his favorite pastime were the trips that he and Sandra made to Austin and all the other locations to watch the boys play and compete. Baseball was his favorite pastime. He enjoyed all the sports the grandchildren competed in: volleyball, softball, basketball, track and theater but baseball was the BEST.
Leroy was very fortunate in his life to find two wonderful ladies to love him deeply. He married Gevonna Hickey on Dec. 7, 1956, and together they raised three children; Ricky, Vicki and Randy Frnka. She passed away in July 1990 of breast cancer. Leroy found the love of the second half of life at a postmasters’ meeting and married Sandra A. Koenig on Nov. 30, 1991, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Columbus. She was a fellow postmaster and with this marriage he added two more children: Stephen (Jennifer) and Kimberly Koenig and one grandchild. They lived in El Campo, Texas, for two years before moving to Columbus to build their “forever” home. After relocating to Columbus, they moved their church membership to St. Anthony Catholic Church and became active in the church, becoming Eucharistic ministers, attending Bible studies and assisting the priest in funeral services. He enjoyed helping around the church, setting up the manger scene at Christmas, the Cross at Easter and assisting Deacon Holesovsky with acolyte (altar) server training. Serving the Christmas Eve 11 p.m. Mass as Eucharistic ministers for 22 years were always so special for himself and Sandra.
Leroy and Sandra loved to travel and went to many interesting places: Stockholm, Sweden; London, England; Fatima, Portugal; Spain, different provinces in Canada, Alaska and many state and national parks. His favorite place was Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Grand Teton Mountains where he knew that God was indeed the creator of world.
Visitation was Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, from 2 to 4 p.m.at Henneke Funeral Home in Columbus, Texas. A parish prayer service and rosary was held at 4 p.m.
Funeral service was Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Columbus, Texas, with Father Augustine N. Asante officiating. Visitation was from 10: to 11 a.m.
Burial was in St. Anthony Catholic Cemetery in Columbus.
Pallbearers were Jason Hensley, Stephen D. Koenig, Samuel J. Koenig, Dillon Owing, Bob Bell and Barry Bell.
Memorials may be given to St. Anthony Catholic Church Altar Society, P.O. Box 669, Columbus, Texas, or the charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be given at www.hennekefuneralhome. com.
Henneke Funeral Home, Columbus, Texas