Ridgefield Press - 10/11/2001

Frank Warner, 89, banker, civic leader

Frank E. Warner of Boca Raton, Fla., a retired banker who was involved in almost every facet of civic life in Ridgefield, died Monday, Oct. 8, at his home. He was 89 years old.
“Frank Warner wasn’t the first man on the moon. He hasn’t made a million dollars and his name is not a household word,” a Press writer said in 1975. “But he has contributed enormously to his community and has had a good time doing it.”
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Mr. Warner was born on Aug. 21, 1912, a son of Alfred and Frances Veronica Niick Warner. He grew up in Jersey City, got his first job in a grocery store, and then in 1929 went to work as an inside messenger boy for the New York Trust Company.
“As a 17-year-old, I thought I was pretty important,” he said. “For 15 years I worked in the bank, learning all the departments. I got a good general knowledge of commercial banking. Banking doesn’t pay much, except to the men who own the bank, but there’s prestige in working in a bank.”
While working he studied at the School of Banking at Rutgers University, where he received a degree.
In 1944, he joined the First National Bank and Trust Company of Ridgefield, the town bank that built and operated out of what is now the First Union office on Main Street. His first post was assistant trust officer, and through several mergers he rose through the ranks to become head of the trust department for the Danbury region of the Union Trust Company, predecessor of First Union. He retired in 1973. For the next seven years, he worked a trust consultant for a law firm in Bethel, retiring in 1980.
Mr. Warner came to Ridgefield during the war, and in 1944 and 1945, spent part of his time at the bank and the rest at South Salem Studios, which made scale model ships used in the training of Navy flyers. “Jim Doubleday, president of the bank, was active in the studios and a lot of Ridgefield ladies worked there,” he said in an interview. “I handled the payroll and financing.”
>From the mid 1940s until 1975, he was treasurer of the Ridgefield Library Board of Directors. When he started, the library had a budget of $6,000 a year. By his retirement it was $142,000.
In the early 1960s, he became the first male president of the Ridgefield PTA — then one organization serving all the schools. Officers got special pins. “They had no PTA pins for men, so they gave me a woman’s pin,” he recalled with a smile.
A Republican, Mr. Warner was on the Board of Finance for more than 10 years, serving under several town administrations at a time when the board members were appointed, not elected. “That was satisfying work,” he said, “and I felt I was doing a good job, watching out for the town’s purse strings.”
While he was on the Mauwehu Council of the Boy Scouts of America, he went to Washington for the 50th anniversary of boy scouting. “We had dinner with President Eisenhower,” he said. “There are few times in your life you get thrilled, and that was one of them.” He received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1960.
Mr. Warner’s other affiliations included the Lions Club, of which he was once president and the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, where he was also treasurer. He led local fundraising campaigns for Danbury Hospital, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. He belonged to the Ridgefield and Danbury Boards of Realtors, and to St. Mary’s Church.
He also belonged to the Ridgewood Country Club and often played golf with such fellow townsmen as Paul Morganti, Judge Reed F. Shields, Judge John E. Dowling, and William H. Casey. Those men were also among the group of lawyers, bankers, real estate, and business people that lunched each Friday at the old King Neptune Restaurant. “They used to love to talk the troubles of the world away,” said his son, William Warner of Danbury.
Grace Warner died in 1982 at the age of 67. Mr. Warner moved to West Lebanon, N.H., a year later, and in 1993 moved to Florida.
Besides his son William, Mr. Warner is survived by two other sons: Francis Warner of San Jose, Calif., and James Warner of East Boston, Mass.; a daughter: Barbara Robert of Boca Raton, Fla.; and by ten grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Ridgefield. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Friends will be received in the Kane Funeral Home 41 Catoonah Street, on Thursday from 5 to 8.
Contributions in Mr. Warner’s memory may be made to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, PO Box 016960R48, Miami. FL 33101 or to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, 500 Morris Avenue, Springfield, NJ 07081

Copyright 2001 Acorn Press