West Vancouver’s Frank Kurucz has crossed his final finish line.
Frank died on Saturday, December 5, 2020, in his 91st year. Those whose lives Frank touched will remember him, each in their own way, and always with a smile.
In his obituary, Frank’s son, Tom, and his family, have written eloquently about the extent and the value of his contributions and achievements, his love of life, passion for fitness and his wicked sense of humour. See: Dignity Memorials
I (Laura Anderson) was one of many, many people whose life Frank touched, certainly more briefly than most who had the privilege of knowing him. Everyone has a story about Frank, and every one raises a smile.
I always smiled when we met, and always when his name came up in conversation, anticipating one more great Frank story to add to the collection.
Our connection came through Arthur Mudry, friend and fellow Nomad Runner. In 1964, Frank was running the West Vancouver YMCA, an opportunity for him to introduce running literally in our community. “Frank started the first running school in the Lower Mainland – rain or shine or snow,” Arthur recalled. “In those years, no one was running – all the cars would honk at us. It was all due to Frank’s capacity to engage anybody and everybody.”
Every week, on Tuesday and Thursday, Frank and Arthur, along with Conway Chun and Fred MacDonald, ran from the YMCA at 17th Street to the Capilano River and back.
“One day, I had a deadline to meet, so I didn’t go. I got a phone call from Frank. ‘Where are you? Are you coming or am I coming to get you?’ I went.”
His average time for the Masters Mile, run every year at West Vancouver Community Day, was 6.47 minutes. Frank was proud of that, but perhaps more proud of the living, breathing results of his work or, more properly, his mission: people living healthy lives.
“I see them all, still alive, still active. I take full credit for that.”
Frank’s fitness inventions – the Nomads Runners, the Masters Mile, the Fit Fellas – were taken up by people due to the capacity he had to engage and to inspire.
Fitness was integrated into their lives thanks to the benefits it brought: health, and the camaraderie that we take for granted in our youth, and that we learn, as the years go by, the value of that connection is beyond price.
Frank’s legacy will be different for all who knew him, and remember him. The next time you’re walking the West Vancouver seawall, look for the plaque mounted at 22nd Street. Each time I stop there and read Charlie Mayrs’s anthem to his fellow Nomads, I think of Frank and smile.
Embracing sun and sea,
Respecting life and what it means,
We celebrate. We’re free….
We’re thankful for this special place,
Our home. Community.
And when we’re on our final run,
We’re gone. Eternally.
Frank’s family has created an enduring legacy on his behalf, to carry on the spirit of his contribution to our community. The Frank Kurucz Legacy Fund, at the West Vancouver Foundation, will support health and wellness initiatives contributing to individual and / or community wellbeing in West Vancouver. Here is a link to Frank’s fund: https://westvanfoundation.ca/frank-kurucz-legacy-fund
Should you be moved to contribute, consider going that extra mile and include a line or two about your memories of Frank – he would approve.
Author: Laura Anderson, Dec 11, 2020
Photograph: Frank Kurucz, Nomads Christmas Run 2010, courtesy Angus Wilkinson)