December 13, 2012Frank Rakestraw, a man better known to Rhino Readers as Mary Rakestraw's Sweet Baboo, died at Wesley Long Hospital after a brief illness on Sunday, Dec. 9. Frank and Mary had been married for 45 years, and Frank was a man who proves the old adage – behind every good woman is a good man. Mary Rakestraw served on both the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council, but Frank was the man behind the scenes, running campaigns and drumming up support.
Frank was a tireless campaign worker for Mary and other conservative candidates. Walking neighborhoods, going door to door, is the old fashioned way to campaign, and something that was dear to Frank's heart – and a very inexpensive way to campaign. Frank spent days every election year walking neighborhoods knocking on doors and talking to whoever would listen.
You couldn't know Frank for more than a minute or two without learning that he was a little more than fond of his alma mater, the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels.
He and Mary were extremely well traveled, having lived in Germany and in Belgium. They once traveled all around Turkey by public bus, once again classic Frank, because it was interesting, exciting, different and easy on the wallet. More recently Frank had found a place closer to home that he loved, and that was Orlando, Florida, and Disney World. Frank loved it down there and had planned to make one more trip, but his health didn't cooperate.
I usually saw Frank when he was in the midst of a political campaign, which means he was trying to get more done in a day than is humanly possible. But although I knew he was in a huge hurry, he never seemed to be. He seemed to be just ambling along, happy to stop and chat for a moment, even if he didn't have time to sit down.
I'll never forget one day when Frank stopped in my office on East Market Street when he did have time to sit down and talk politics. I had a big green chair for visitors, where they sank practically down to the floor. Frank was sitting in that chair and we were talking about something crazy the Guilford County commissioners had done, and I noticed that it looked like smoke was coming out of the pocket of Frank's sport coat. I mentioned to him that he seemed to be on fire and he said, very matter of factly, "Oh, that's just my pipe." He had put a lit pipe in his pocket when he walked in the door and was not the least bit concerned about it. His pocket continued to smoke and we continued to talk.
I didn't know Frank well at that point, but I decided right then that Frank Rakestraw was my kind of guy. He had the remarkable ability to enjoy life, which is a wonderful gift. Frank loved the Tar Heels, thought Disney World was one of the best places on earth, believed that Mary Rakestraw hung the moon, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.