The Runner’s Creed
(written by Frank’s grand daughter)
A tall, trim, silver-haired man with electric orange athletic
shorts, a white T-shirt, a mesh cap and a beaming smile deliberately
coasted through the 10-mile Natick Center checkpoint with rhythmic
The year was 1996 and the man was Francis Andrew Nealon, most commonly known as Frank, Dad, Grampy.
He was no stranger to the 26.2-mile challenge ÛÓ in fact, he
completed 15 marathons, including five Boston Marathons and one New York
City Marathon, in his lifetime.
It’s just one of the many reasons he was one-of-a-kind.
Frank was born on Sept. 1, 1928 in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, where
he lived with his parents Andrew and Agnes Nealon, his brother Joe and
his sister Marie.
He earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from St. Joseph’s
University in Pennsylvania and later earned advanced degrees in history
and psychology & counseling from Villanova University and Assumption
Following his graduation from St. Joe’s, Frank enlisted in the
United States Air Force on June 28, 1951. It was a time of uncertainty
yet good fortune as he met Rita Berardi while stationed in Europe. On
Dec. 29, 1956, Frank and Rita wed at St. Michael’s Church in Huntington,
Still in uniform, Frank returned to the U.S. with Rita where they
started their family of seven children while Frank continued to serve
his country from Pennsylvania, California, Texas and ultimately
He was also deployed to Southeast Asia and was awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross for meritorious service in the Republic of
After he retired from the United States Air Force as Major, Frank
worked as a guidance counselor and then as a school psychologist for the
Milford Public School System for more than 25 years.
He loved life and all of its simplicities ÛÓ a coastal bike ride and a
cone of peppermint ice cream in Boothbay Harbor, Maine; traditional
Friday lunches with his children; Sunday kayaking with his fellow
outdoorsmen; summertime hikes with his son and grandson; a trip to the
Owls Head Museum Air Show.
He also loved spending time with his nine grandchildren; Lindsay
Barrs, Lauren Nealon, Sean Lehman, Jennifer Barrs, Cory Lehman, Joseph
Manzo, Evan Cornelius, Bree Cornelius and Danielle Smith; and one great
grandchild; Ava Nealon.
Always a man of adventure, Frank incorporated running, biking,
hiking, kayaking and swimming into his daily life. He was a founding
member of the Tri-Valley FrontRunners running club and served as club
ambassador and race director for more than three decades.
He was also a creative mind, passionate about photography,
sketching, writing and capturing life’s simple moments through other
mediums ÛÓ he even crafted his own comics and took up calligraphy.
Also important to Frank was faith. He held his Catholic faith close
to his heart and always imparted kindness, integrity, respect and love
upon those around him through his humble actions, gentle demeanor,
subtle humor and respect for all people.
He is survived by his wife Rita of 57 years, his daughter Kathleen
and her husband Charles Barrs; his daughter Maria and her husband
Randall Lehman; his son Stephen and his wife Marissa; his daughter Anne
and her husband Tom Daoust; his daughter Teresa; his daughter Patricia
and her husband Daniel Smith; and his daughter Margaret and her husband
He is also survived by his sister Marie Adickes, his sisters-in-law
Romana Ferrecchia, Mary Sayles, Marilyn Berardi and Vicki Berardi, and
his brothers-in-law Robert Berardi and Matteo Berardi.
We love you always Frank, Dad, Grampy; and as you taught us, we will continue to “keep the faith.”
His funeral, with Military Honors, will be held Friday (May
30th) at 9am from the Edwards Memorial Funeral Home, 44 Congress
Street, Milford MA followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10am in
St. Mary of the Assumption Church, 19 Winter Street, Milford MA. Burial
will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Milford MA. Visiting hours will be
Thursday (May 29th) from 5pm to 8pm.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Problem
Pregnancy of Worcester Inc., 495 Pleasant Street, Worcester MA 01605
or to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Cancer Care Fund @ MRMC, 14
Prospect Street, Milford MA 01757.