The Tan-Dark man
By Lynette Sowell
My front porch
Some news makes you stop right in your tracks. That’s what I did when I got the call about Frank Seffrood early on Friday afternoon.
First my reaction was, “Did I hear this right?” and then “Let’s verify this.” Which, we did. It was true. Our newly reelected mayor had passed away.
When you hear bad news about someone you’ve rubbed elbows with for years, it does indeed make you pause.
Frank was a busy, busy guy. Being mayor was more than holding babies and posing for photos. On any given day, he would attend multiple events as a representative of our city. Key events, making sure we had representation at Fort Hood. He was involved in seeing the big picture, beyond Copperas Cove and yet stepping up to give our community a regional voice.
There will be many stories told of the man who became mayor, stories that will be told this week and likely for years to come.
Like many people, I have one story of my own.
I first knew Frank as our postman, when he was driving a route in Copperas Cove. He did a good job and when he no longer drove a route, we were disappointed that he was gone. This was before the days I even imagined being a news writer.
But one particular day, my husband and I were riding along Highway 190, heading east. It was a warm day and I saw a man running along, heading west.
He was an older man, with silver hair, and he kept up a pretty good pace. Of note, he was not wearing a shirt, either, but his torso was tanned and relatively fit “for a guy his age” (whatever that means).
I did a double-take.
I recall looking at my husband and saying, “Wow, look at him go! I wonder how old he is? He sure is tan!”
And off Frank went, running along. From that point on, he became Tan-Dark Man. Then, we saw him deliver our mail and I put the proverbial two-and-two together. It was tan-dark man!
Fast forward a few years and I walk into a city council meeting – my first news assignment ever – and there he was, Tan-Dark Man again, seated at the dais. This time, he wore a jacket and a tie at this particular meeting. But there was no mistaking him.
As time went along, I would see Frank regularly at meeting after meeting, city events, and more. He was always happy to see someone and didn’t shrink from questions.
If you heard Frank speak, which many of us have, you will know he used some of the same words over and over. Words like “community” and “together” and “volunteer.”
Frank wasn’t a mere figurehead like some mayors. He would volunteer and continued to volunteer regularly. He crossed the finish line at MayFest Color Run, after getting thoroughly “colored” to the point he had to take his glasses off. He would show up for other running events, showing his support for his community. He would show up frequently for trash clean-ups held by Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful.
He put muscle behind his words. Quite frankly (no pun intended), he would probably be a bit embarrassed at the attention given to him and about him, for a guy who “showed up.”
It’s about the community, he would say. It’s about working together and learning to work together to get things done.
On occasion, Frank and I would talk about our families. One thing Frank was proud of, was his family. In particular, I recall how excited he was when he announced his grandson had entered the DPS academy and was studying to become an officer. He was even more excited to share when that same grandson was getting sworn in, and Frank was going to attend the ceremony.
Community and family were two big things to him.
I’m not sure why Frank decided to run for office the very first time he did, but from what I saw, meeting after meeting, event after event, it was about giving back and making the city a better place for all of us.
No man is perfect, but the one who steps up to make a positive change in the community will do more than those who simply stay home and complain. Tan-Dark Man put some muscle behind his motivation.
Thanks, Frank. Would that we all make a positive difference, not for ourselves, but for the good of the community.