Frank Mariano Sainz, born August 27, 1922, peacefully passed away March 22, 2016, in his sleep, at his residence, at the age of 93. He is preceded in death by: his parents, two sisters, one brother and one daughter, Diana. Frank is survived by: his wife, Amelia; son, Bill; daughter, Anna; five grandsons, three great-grandsons and a fourth expected in July; and two sisters.
Frank completed ninth grade in 1937, and decided to join the work force, working for a local freight line company. He played fast-pitch softball for Solomonville and also played for teams sponsored by Palms, Gila Valley Laundry and the Safford Packing Plant. Frank was a self-taught pitcher, recognized as one of the best in the Gila Valley and the state of Arizona. His teams won several championships throughout Eastern Arizona.
Frank joined the Army on January 15, 1942, at age 19, receiving his basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas. From there, he was stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., and went on jungle maneuvers in southern Florida in preparation to join the South Pacific campaign. Frank’s orders were changed due to the advancements made by the Germans in the Middle East to gain control of the oilfields. He sailed from the Old Brooklyn Naval Base for the Suez in Egypt. In Egypt, Frank joined Montgomery’s 8th Army, 348th tank brigade. They fought their way through Tobruk, El Alamein and Bizerte. The turning point was the battle of El Alamein, where the Germans’ desert fox Erwin Rommell lost control of North Africa.
Frank also took part in the invasion of Sicily and Italy. His brigade successfully took Cassino in Italy that led to the fall of the Germans in Rome. Frank got the opportunity to show his fast-ball pitching skills, playing with various Army teams during his 36 months overseas. Frank was discharged from the Army on September 14, 1945. Upon his return home, he found employment at the ice plant and the cotton gin. He married Amelia Chavez on September 15, 1947. They would have celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary this year.
From 1948 through 1960, Frank worked as a heavy equipment operator for Graham County. From 1961 to 1983, he worked for the Arizona State Department of Highways in the same capacity. During most of this time, Frank continued to play fast-pitch softball. His hobbies included big game hunting, quail hunting, fresh and deep sea fishing, gardening and prospecting.
He bagged several four-point deer, with the last one killed in 1997 at Kaibab. He also caught several large Dorado, marlin, bass and catfish.
Frank’s incredible memory recalled names of friends, places and events dating back to his childhood. He would tell stories about his summertime visits with his grandfather, Jesus Sainz, at his ranch in upper Eagle Creek. After his summer visits, Grandpa Jesus would take Frank on horseback to the Solomonville Pass, where Frank would make a solo journey back to his home in Solomonville on an old mare named Camote. He was told to leave the old mare alone as “she would get you back home.”
Frank was a caring individual who lived life with vigor. He treated all with respect and expected the same in return. Once you got to know Frank, you felt he was your best friend.
The family wishes a special thanks to Alesa Jensen (caretaker) and the Mount Graham Hospice. The family also requests donations in Frank’s honor to be made to the Mount Graham Regional Medical Center Home & Health Hospice located at 1600 S. 20th Ave. Safford, AZ, 85546.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial for Frank will be celebrated Friday, April 1, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church by Rev. Robert Rodriguez. Military honors will follow, conferred by the Gila Valley Veterans’ Honor Guard.
A rosary and prayer vigil for Frank will be prayed Thursday evening, March 31, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., at Vining Funeral Home’s “Chapel of the Valley,” by Deacon Carl Vessels.
Family will receive friends Thursday evening, March 31, 2016, from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., at the Vining Funeral Home.
Online condolences may be offered at viningfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Vining Funeral Home.