Passages: Michigan Great Frank Legacki Dies After Battle With Cancer

frank-legacki
Photo Courtesy: Michigan Swimming & Diving

Frank Legacki passed away on October 16, 2020 at the age of 81 years. The cause of death was Metastatic Prostate Cancer.

Frank had an amazing life. He lived an active, interesting life, certainly a life with a great deal of panache. He gave as much, if not more than was given to him in life. Rest assured that no one has celebrated life like Frank has.

He loved making friends, he kept in touch with elementary, high school, and collage friends and those he met during his career and travels. Frank loved asking strangers about their life, where they were from and then, they too became Frank’s friends. When Frank entered a room, he owned it, you knew he was there, in a very good way. He avidly studied history and traveled the world. A supporter and lover of art, dance and music, fishing, cooking, and at the end of each day Frank loved a “very, very dry martini, straight-up with a twist”! Frank loved entertaining, throwing big parties and cooking for family and friends and always said the best restaurant in Ann Arbor was his home! He loved children and would get a kick in giving them his undulating handshake, which always made kids laugh and come back for more. Most of all Frank had an amazing positive attitude and loved just being happy!

He loved his Alma Matter, the University of Michigan. When attending any and every University of Michigan event, he enjoyed it with the enthusiasm and excitement of a first-time attendee! Through his travels, Frank always carried an extra U of M cap, which he would gift to a person that would capture his heart. Frank leaves many, many wonderful friends here and around the world.

When Frank was close to the end of his life, he wrote updates to his family and friends. These updates were both sad and funny in only a way Frank could write. We will all miss him and invite you to read more about his wonderful life as follows.

Frank was born on September 28, 1939 in Philadelphia to Frank Walter and Helen (Friel) Legacki. He was the oldest of eight children, six boys and two girls, and the family lived in a modest, working-class, three-bedroom, one-bath row home in the Tacony section of the city. Frank’s father was a carpenter from a Polish immigrant family, the first born in the US, and his mother from an Irish working-class background, a typical combination in the working-class neighborhoods of Philadelphia at that time.

Frank always appreciated and was proud of his modest background; he felt it had given him a broader perspective on humanity and life than he would have had if he were born and raised in an affluent environment.

Frank went to Father Judge High School, an all-boys Catholic high school with over 3,000 students. He tried out for the swimming team and made the team in his freshman year, an event that would prove pivotal in Frank’s life.

The High School did not have a swimming pool and there were none within reasonable proximity. So, Frank and his teammates would travel by public transportation one to one-an-a-half hours each way to pools at distant parts of the city to train for one hour. Despite these impediments, Frank became a National Catholic High School Champion and a Scholastic All-American. He earned a number of athletic scholarship offers from colleges and universities.

Frank came down to choosing between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, two universities with the top Collegiate Swimming programs. As Frank often related, he asked his high school coach which school his coach thought he should attend, and his coach answered; “Probably Ohio State, because Michigan is a far more difficult school academically and you may have problems getting trough at Michigan”. Being as prideful and the competitor that he was, Frank claims he decided on the spot he was going to Michigan.

Frank Legacki struggled with his adjustment at Michigan and he came close to flunking out of school. He was simply not prepared for a rigorous academic environment. But with determination and persistence, and the support of his coach and other people at Michigan, he gradually adjusted and eventually became a creditable student.

His success in swimming helped his adjustment. In his sophomore year, his first year of eligibility, Frank Legacki became a NCAA Champion in 100-yard freestyle and anchored the NCAA Champion 400 freestyle relay. Two weeks later, he swam the 100-yard butterfly at the National A.A.U. Championships (at that time, the US Open Championship meet) and won and set an America Record in this Butterfly event.

Frank was always proud of being an integral part of Michigan’s 1959 NCAA Championship Team, which to this day is considered the greatest swimming team in NCAA history. As Michigan entered this event, the record points ever scored by a team in the history of NCAA Swimming Championship competition was 95.5 points; Michigan scored 138.5 points that year, more than the total of the next three team combined. No team has dominated to this extent ever since.

In his senior year, Frank was elected Captain and the Michigan team went on the be the upset Victors in the NCAA Championships, outscoring the favored University of Southern California team by a score of 82 vs. USC’s 60 points. Frank won the 50-yard freestyle that year with an American Record time of 21.3 seconds.

He also competed in the National AAU Championships a few weeks later and set another American Record (51.9 seconds) in the 100-yard butterfly.

Among Frank’s other accomplishments in completive swimming, he was a member of the USA National Team that toured and competed in Japan in the summer of 1959.

At the University of Michigan, Frank was active in areas besides his competitive swimming. He was President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity; selected as a member of Michigamua, the top senior men’s honorary; Hectorians, an honorary for the top ten Fraternity Presidents (among 48 fraternity presidents) and a member of the Board of Directors of the U of M Student Union. He also emceed a number of pep rallies and other all-campus student events.

After graduation from undergraduate at Michigan, Frank married and had four daughters with his first wife. The couple divorced after 23 years together.

Frank went on to earn a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) at Michigan and graduated in the top quarter of his class while working almost 40 hours a week to pay for his continued education.

He started his business career in advertising in New York City for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. After Ogilvy, he worked at several companies over his business career in marketing and related areas, including; Managing Director of the Strategic Consulting Group of Marketing Corporation of America; VP of Marketing for Converse Athletic Footwear; Founder and President of the Andover Consulting Group and President of Kaepa Athletic Footwear. Frank led a buy-out of this latter company from Wolverine World Wide with support from some of the top Venture Capital firms in the country, and eventually sold Kaepa to Umbro Sports Apparel.

Then Frank helped Alicia Torres, who he eventually married, organize an LBO of several software products from Alicia’s company, and the couple formed Rosebud Solutions. Alicia held the title of CEO and Frank was the Senior VP of Rosebud (Frank would say he was Alicia’s “linebacker” at Rosebud). The couple generated over $1.5 Million in outside investments, built a team of skilled employees and grew the business into an attractive acquisition candidate. Rosebud Solutions was eventually acquired by McKesson, Inc. (NYSE: MCK), which at the time was the fifth largest US Company.

After the sale of Rosebud, Frank worked with a Boston-based Consulting and Venture Capital Firm, Fletcher Spaight, Inc. He worked half-time for FSV, the venture division of this firm; he helped raise a $10 Million investment from the State of Michigan and he was a key player in finding two major investments in Michigan, in which the FSV invested about $12 Million.

Frank married Alicia M. Torres, who is 21 years his junior, in San Antonio and the couple had been together five years before marrying 22 years ago. They now live in Barton Hills Village and both have been very active in the Ann Arbor Community.

Frank-Legacki

Frank Legacki. Photo Courtesy: International Swimming Hall of Fame

Frank was always loyal and grateful to the University of Michigan for his education and personal growth, and all the people at the U of M who helped him grow. He often said: “I was born at the University of Michigan; it was here I learned how to think”.

He was very active with the University in subsequent years. He was President of the Grey Whales (Swim Boosters); on the Board of Directors of the Letterwinners M Club; the Board of the U of M Alumni Association; the Board of the U of M Urology Center and The Board of the University Musical Society (UMS), where he was the Chair of the UMS Marketing Committee.

Frank Legacki was also President of the Barton Hills Maintenance Corporation, the Barton Hills homeowner’s association.

Frank and his wife have had a broad range of interest. They attend about 20 of the UMS performances and events each year, many of the events of the School of Music Theater and Dance, and both are active in their support of and attendance at the Michigan Theater. They also have season tickets for U of M Football, Basketball, Hockey, Wrestling and Softball. And they are regular fixtures at most of these and other U of M athletic events, especially U of M Swimming and Diving meets. They also have a second home in Florida, in Jensen Beach, on the Atlantic side of the State, and they are active fishing people. They regularly fished locally in South Florida and have also taken many trips to exotic locations around the world to fly-fish for Bonefish and off-shore for big game species.

Frank’s greatest joy was spending time with his Grandchildren, Sam and Anna Sophia Flamand and Noah Stainton. He loved to take them fishing and to athletic and cultural events at the University of Michigan. Frank is also an accomplished cook and he and his Grandchildren enjoy preparing meals together. His Grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed being with “GP Frank” and participating in these experiences with him.

Frank is survived by the love his life, best friend and wife, Alicia Torres; they have had an extraordinarily interesting and productive life together. He is also survived by his pride and Joy, his daughter Lynn Flamand and her family, including Lynn’s husband, Ben Flamand and Frank’s grandchildren Anna Sophia and Sam Flamand. He is also survived by his wonderful daughter Beth Legacki, her husband Mark Shockley and their son, Frank’s grandson, Noah. Surviving relatives also include his youngest sibling, sister Denise Tompkins, sister Jane Ferry and brother, Paul Legacki.

Frank requested of his wife Alicia and a few close friends that his epitaph be borrowed from the last lines in Edmond Rostand’s great play, Cyrano de Bergerac. In the final scene of this play, Cyrano lies in Roxanne’s arms, mortally wounded by his deceptive enemies, and as he weakens, he looks at Roxanne and utters his final words; “They have taken my life, but they have not taken my panache”.

Frank Legacki lived an active, interesting and generous life, certainly a life with a great deal of panache.

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