A life lived blazing trails through the open plains of West Texas didn't cease after W. Frank Myers Jr. made his way to Pennsylvania. To the contrary, the former cowboy and founder of Frank Myers Group came to Pittsburgh determined to set a path toward independent living that rivaled any he could have hoped to achieve back at the ranch.
"He was full steam ahead all the way up to when he got sick and retired at 82," said his son Troy Myers.
W. Frank Myers Jr. died Saturday of complications related to ALS. He was 85.
The transition from a rodeo-running cowboy to the owner of a gifts and housewares sales company took the sowing of several oats and a tour in the Army to come to fruition. Born in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Myers and his family would see the nation with his father, who was responsible for general store openings across several states.
By the time the family settled in West Texas, Mr. Myers had embraced the outdoors. What started with working as a cowboy on area ranches evolved to a job at a rodeo and a stint as a race car driver.
And while his wife, Karen, said one of the highlights of that time was the Mexican Road Race, a cross-country journey where he battled famed race car driver Juan Fangio, she said a crack at bull riding in the rodeo was another point of pride.
"He rode the bull once -- only once," she emphasized.
After serving in the Army as a tank commander in Alaska in 1950, Mr. Myers made his way to Pittsburgh and kicked off his transition to entrepreneurship. A fortunate move, said Mrs. Myers, since his involvement in sales helped them meet in 1977 at an area trade show. Mr. Myers stopped clamoring for the outdoor life but remained a craftsman, according to family. One of his greatest feats of construction -- a wooden staircase that spirals around trees on a steep hill in the family's backyard -- was a project he began at age 71.
"He was always doing crazy things people his age shouldn't have been doing. He was always younger than his chronological age," Mrs. Myers said.
Physical reminders such as the staircase will serve as part of Mr. Myers' legacy for years to come, but the emotional impact left on family and friends will endure for generations.
"He was a warm and generous guy and a Southern gentleman all the way to the end," said Troy Myers, who worked alongside his father for years at the family business.
"He brought a joy for life and everything about it to everyone he ever met," Mrs. Myers said.
In addition to his wife and son Troy of Yardley, Bucks County, Mr. Myers is survived by sons Russell of Upper St. Clair and Mark of New City, N.Y., and daughters Megan of Sewickley and Storm Walton of Oakmont. He also leaves behind a sister, Caroline Tesarek, and 12 grandchildren.
A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today at St. Scholastica Church in Aspinwall. Private burial will be in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil.
The family is asking that donations be made to the ALS Society of Western Pa., 416 Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh 15209.
Deborah M. Todd: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1652.