The card given them at their farewell party had this handwritten message, "I'm not good at saying goodbye," a sentiment likely felt by many. Frank and Yvonne Lopp were moving away, leaving Gilbert where they have made their home, and going to new adventures in the Twin Cities area, home to three of their five children, Nancy, Frank, Diane, Patty and Mark.
One recent day Yvonne phoned and said she had something to share. "Frankie and I are moving," she said, and my mind filled with fond memories and my eyes with tears. They were moving to be nearer to their children, with whom they are very close. Often Frank and Yvonne visit their children, and there always are happy times, with the births of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There have been sad times too, when family members have been injured in accidents, and through strong family bonds, always they have rallied.
People gathered at the Gilbert VFW on a recent evening to say goodbye, and to remind them not to be strangers, to come back and to not forget they always have friends in Gilbert. And we asked the assembled friends to raise their glasses in a toast to Frank and Yvonne.
In 2015 Frank and Yvonne were grand marshals of the 3rd of July parade, so a newspaper story had been in order. It began, "When someone asked Frank Lopp why he was building a new house in Gilbert some years back, he said he answered without hesitation: 'I like Gilbert. I like a small town. We don’t want to go anywhere else.' Yvonne shared the sentiment: 'We’ve both lived in Gilbert all our lives, both of us are Gilbert High School graduates and we got married in Gilbert.'"
Frank, 93, is a World War II veteran and a life member of George and Mark Klobuchar VFW 4456, having joined in 1948. Frank said in the story, "These years went by like a shot. Yvonne and I had a good life together and good family." He was actively involved in the VFW, especially in the organizing of the addition, or annex, to the club in the 1970s. "I'd bartend for a dollar an hour. We had good times at the VFW."
Frank worked as a mechanic at natural ore mines such as the Gilbert Mine, Canton, Leonidas and Stevens, then became a foreman and maintenance planner at Minntac, retiring in 1983. Yvonne, 87, worked at the J.C. Penney store in downtown Virginia. Active in the VFW Auxiliary since she joined in 1954, she served more than 20 years as treasurer. Frank served in the honor guard until just a few years ago, proudly taking part in rifle salutes in parades and at burial services for departed comrades. Yvonne is a life member of the auxiliary and proudly wore the color guard yellow vest and for years marched in the area parades and worked at lots of funerals and spaghetti feeds.
In the 2015 story Frank told about his days in the Army Air Corps. "What really impressed me is when they buried General Patton. I happened to be in Heidelberg, Germany, at the time." And "When I look back over all the years," Frank had told me "the proudest accomplishment was marrying Yvonne." And Yvonne had smiled and said, "That’s so nice." And family is foremost with both of them.
The story had continued. "A whirlwind romance blossomed when the two met five years after Frank returned from the war. 'We dated from November to July,' they said, and on July 14, 1951, they were married. 'We have been very lucky,' Yvonne said. And as far as building a new home in Gilbert — it had been a lifelong dream ever since they had built their first home on Louisiana Avenue. Frank had always had his heart set on the corner lot on Summit and Alaska."
But as the years pass and yard tasks and the chores of keeping up a home present more challenges, plans sometimes change. And so we friends of Frank and Yvonne wish them all best in their new adventure. Their longtime neighbor and friend, Mary Bradach, took their picture with the special cake she had made and texted me the picture with this message: "Goodbye, dear friends."
Yes, goodbye, dear friends. We won't forget you ever, and you are always welcome at the VFW. And always in our hearts.