Dad, who are you with now? Are you fishing with your brothers, Lou and John, or sons on the Outer Banks of North Carolina? Are you playing banjo alongside Woody Guthrie and Steve Goodman? Are you waxing philosophical with Gandi and Churchill and Martin Luther King? Is your Mom cooking you dinner? Is your Dad showing you how to raise New Jersy Reds? Are you witnessing the great Wars and the Great depression? Are you chasing piglets on the back forty in northern Wisconsin? Are your Spats and Bowler Derby taking a spin on the Aragon ballroom floor? Are you looking into Clarissa's eyes and asking her to be yours? Is Judy, Joey and Larry chasing after you asking for a nickel? Is Denny, Susie and Johnny quietly watching you develop film in your studio? Is Teryy, Mikey, and Linda dancing around your feet as you play your banjo? Dad, who are you with now? Are you the robust father and husband we knew for so many years? Can you see our tears for missing you? Can you hear the love beating in our hearts for loving you? Can you hear our voices cry that say thank you? Do you feel our emoitions that flood over us? Dad, who are you with now? Are you with each and everyone of us in this church because our memories of you are seared in our conscoiusness for ever? Are you with everyone who ever shared your stories, your smile, your heklping hand, your visions and plans, your courage, your dignity? Dad who are you with now? You are with us, now. Just like you have always been. And we are with you! -Michael Zuiker

Like all of us, I've been thinking about grampa. He was an idol of mine and I wanted to pay him a tribute. He has been involved in so many great things. He has written for magazines, he wrote a book. He worked for many interesting companies. He helped raise nine children. He traveled the backroads of the country and taught many of us how to fish and live off the land. And, he was a great photographer. To pay tribute, I decided I should focus on one thing in particular, his photography. In the next couple of months, I will be constucting some web pages that highlight his work (watch for these pages here at Many of the photos also have captions written on the back by grampa, and I will include this info too. This will be a way to remind us of great times and an exceptional man who captured those times on film. I invite everyone to help that would like to. Just e-mail or mail me photos, I promise I will return them. See some examples of Francis Zuiker's great eye for composition and creativity -- click here now. -Jeff Nolan

Francis was our Best Man in '36, and his brother was his Best-Man in '37. Thus, that was when the closeness started, which has lasted all of our lives. We would have photo shoots at our house, as the brothers had the same passion... photography. They would discuss a shot long before they clicked the shutter to make sure that the exposure was perfect.They would then develop the picture in the dark room. Each of their pictures were perfect in every way. Later, as the family grew we kept in touch in a different way. As a beautician, I became the official haircutter of the boys in the family, and hairdresser for the girls. Francis was the most patient father that I have ever known. His skills went beyond fishing and photography. He had a workshop in his basement where he made cutouts of wood animals and numerous other things for his family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. -Betty

To Zuikers everywhere: I never knew Frank in the flesh. But that didn't matter, really, because I had the next best thing -- his grandson Anton's loving descriptions of his life and times. Anton's a special friend of mine, and nearly everyone who knows him a little seems to remark on how quiet he is. But having watched and studied him for a little longer, I always tended to notice how Z's insides would light up when talking -- yes, invariably quietly --about certain subjects. And grandpa was clearly one of those subjects, perhaps at the very top of the list. In Anton's telling, Frank was the grandest character possible, a man born with the gift for telling stories. He seemed honored to be related to the man, cautiously hopeful that a part of his narrative gift had passed through the genes. He liked how Frank wrote so much over such a long period, liked how he did it as an steady lifelong avocation as much as a profession. Liked how he saw the world through the lens of written stories. It was those stories that seemingly had the power to connect generations of family members despite physical distance, divorce and other assorted conundrums that all families must face. And the potential healing power of those multi-generational stories led Z to start a website for the family, which he famously advertised at every possible chance in every venue imaginable. No matter what we might be talking about over many months earlier this year, Z would find a way to slip in a mention of And on that site, one could see for himself the tenderness he felt for his family, the sense of adventure he felt for new places and new people, all hallmarks of being Frank's grandson. So as I see it, Frank will live on for as long as Anton's pen and fingers on a keypad are still operating. Grandpa's gentle spirit and passion for quality craftsmanship were clearly passed down to Z (and I imagine to several other family members as well). And so in that sense, the beachcomber's passing is somewhat less than final. In a very real way, Francis is bound for immortality. -John Ettorre

Hi, I'm Dorette (Zuiker) Bytnar. I'm Robert and Doreen Zuiker's daughter from Lansing, Ill. I'm sorry to have never known Francis, however, I have heard his name mentioned on occasion. I'm sorry to hear of his passing and will say a few special prayers for him and keep him in my thoughts. I regret not being able to attend his wake/funeral, as I live in Dallas TX. with my husband and 2.5 yr old son. I have read his obituary and was happy to learn about him and his life. Thank you so much for sharing this with the family. I have printed it out and will save this for my children's family history. -Dorette (Zuiker) Bytnar

I'm Carolyn Zuiker O'Brien, daughter of Walter and Emma Zuiker. I just received word of Uncle Francis' death and we, my husband and I, would like to send our condolences to the whole family. I only wish we were living in Chicago so we could have gone to the wake and funeral. We moved to Florida about seven years ago and get into Chicago from time to time. We've kind of lost touch with the whole family, other than a few cousins. I keep in touch with Bernie and Mary Zuiker, daughters of Louis and Antoinette Zuiker. They both live in Chicago but I have been unable to contact them about Uncle Francis' death. We only hope that he went peacefully. Be sure and give everyone our regards tomorrow and be sure to know that your all in our thoughts. -Carolyn O'Brien

It was Uncle Francis that sat with his distraught niece after his brother's funeral. As he spoke, his words of comfort formed a circle around her before they were absorbed into her being. After that, the words formed yet another ring; this time around her heart. And it is there that they will stay... That was so Uncle Francis; taking the time to try and repair an engine flooded with despair. How many times he must have done that in his lifetime for his nine children. We could only watch in amazement as he 'developed' new projects for them. And still, he would work with each of 'the nine' individually. Remarkable, especially when you stop to think that he was also working several jobs in order to support his growing family. He taught each of his children the importance of love, ethics and responsibility, to name a few. And it is obvious that he was also a great teacher. Each and every one of his nine chidren learned well. There was no mistaking that in the last two years of his life... and before. Francis gave all of them, and us, many thoughts to ponder for years to come. It would be difficult to describe him in one word, but if that were necessary, my choice would be, "quality." And it was that, that he was. Uncle Francis kept life's motors running throughout his entire life. If he saw one that began to sputter, he grabbed a tool from his soul and repaired it. But this time he gifted us all with his mechanical skill,and I must thank him...for the spiritual tune-up. Thank you, Uncle Francis. -Gloria Zuiker

What a blessing it was for me to share the last four months of my father's life! What an incredible man ... even to his last breath! During his last four months he took everything in stride. He continued to plan his days. He never gave up. Each day was one more day given to him by his God to live. As was typical of our father, he needed to be involved in all things. Dad needed to know what was going on at all times. He wanted to know how we would move him out of the bed. For instance, "Dad, we'll sit you up first, then move your feet ..." This was good for dad. He needed to still have input on his life. Dad never complained and was always so happy to see his family. When I talked to the reporter from the Tribune, he said "Who is this man?" A simple question you might say. But as I talked about my father, I kept remembering so many incredible things about him. His dedication to his family; his non-stop energy (which I think a few of us have inherited from him); his numerous accomplishments; his love of God; his artistic talents in the form of photography and writing; and on and on. The writer from the tribune and I spoke for quite a while. He mentioned often, "WHAT A NEAT GUY!" Growing up with dad always by our side, I think many times we may have forgotten that. I have been privileged to care for him the last four months! What a blessing that has been. I will forever thank God for allowing the time I had with my dad. Allowing me time to say "Thank you, dad, for loving me so much!" WOW! WHAT A GUY!!!" -Susan

THE ORIGINAL Currently there is a commercial seen on national television for "Coors Light" titled "the original." It features the likes of Willie Mays, Bill Russell and the "Golden Jet" of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bobby Hull. The commercial speaks of how these men were the first, and someone unique. Well Grandpa Zuiker was an "original" and unique and had a connection to Bobby Hull. Back in the 60's and 70's when we were all vendors at the sports venues in Chicago, and long before guaranteed contracts that made millionaires out of mediocare players, Bobby Hull was in a class by himself. Said to be the fastest skater of his time, he had a slap shot that brought terror to opposing goalies and to us vendors who feared a tipped shot would head towards us in the stands and clonk us on the head as we were puring a beer for a pretty blonde. Grandpa appreciated all that the players did for the game of hockey (having been a pretty good hockey player himself with his brother Lou on the "Chicago Ramblers." He especially had a fondness for Bobby Hull, with his good looks, flowing blonde hair, and outgoing, friendly personality. Perhaps Frank the vendor saw a little of himself in Bobby the professional hockey player. On many occasions when Bobby Hull would score a hat trick (that's three goals in a game for you non-hockey people out there), Grandpa would magically come home the next day from the Calumet Shops were he worked as a sheet metal mechanic for the Pullman Rail Company, with this hockey trophy for Bobby Hull or whoever else had excelled the previous day. The trophy was sheet metal made to look like a hockey puck (perhaps two or three together) with the date of the accomplishment engraved onto the puck. I cannot tell you how many times Dad gave these trophies away to players like Bobby, Stan Mikita, Eric Nesterenko and others. But I can tell you that never once did Bobby Hull nor anyone else not accept these humble little trophies as if they were the Stanley Cup. Perhaps somewhere on Bobby Hull's mantel today, among all the professional trophies, stands some of Frank Zuiker's memorial sheet metal trophies. Two very classy guys. -Terry

THE PEACEMAKER In the Holy Bible in Matthew 5 "The Beatitudes", it says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Francis Zuiker (Husband, Father, Grandfather and Friend) was peacemaker. In the late 1960's and early 1970's when the racial diversity of the south side of Chicago -- where we had our home and source of protection from the outside world), where "for sale" signs went up faster than "yard sale" signs do now, where blacks from the other side of the Dan Ryan expressway were trying to flee violence and poverty, and where whites were fleeing towards the perceived safety of the suburbs -- was changing, Francis Zuiker took a stand. He told his family that the house at 10447 Calumet, were he and Clarice had raised nine children, was his home and he was not moving. He would welcome anyone who moved into the neighborhood but he was not fleeing with his family. And so Dad, as always, made a plan: Get to know the new people, welcome them, play with them and learn and grow with them. And so without judging the others who choose to move away, Dad did make contact with the new people and with his outgoing personality and stories, who could not be drawn to him? I can still remember us children sitting on the front steps of our house with the new kids in the neighbhorhood (yes the black ones) and having some great times. Sadly, as the neighborhood continued to change and more violence came to the neighborhood and your's truly was mugged twice, and after having spent a New Year's eve laying on our front room floor for fear of a stray bullet fired in celebration coming into our home, Dad moved his family south to Park Forest. He took his lovely wife, family and furniture, (some say some of the silver coins dad had saved from his youth were never found and may still be in the house at 10447 Calumet) and moved his "house of love" to a new location to begin a new chapter in this "peacemaker's" life. -Terry Zuiker

Francis knew how to take a picture, no matter which side of the camera he was on. When he took a picture, the world was his stage. It was not just a matter of framing the object of his desire. There were elements which must be a part of the Beachcomber's picture. Background, foreground, lighting, placement and "the look" were essential if the picture was going to be worth taking. Francis would walk away from a potential picture if it was not just right. He had the "feel" for a great picture as noted by the thousands of photos he took and displayed throughout his life. He received many accolades from professionals and amateurs who were enchanted by his vision. When he was on the receiving end of the picture, he was never shy at "suggesting" how the picture could be improved. He would move closer to the camera or incorporate some element which the photographer failed to notice. He knew how a picture should be taken, and he believed no picture should be taken unless it was going to be a great picture. Whether he was taking the photo or was the recipient of the moment, there was one element which had to be incorporated into everyone's photo. You had to SMILE! The beachcomber could light up a room with his smile. His pearly whites were always showing when the flash went off. He was a happy man, and he wanted to show it when the photo was taken. Francis lived life like a child opening presents on Christmas Day. He was always excited about everything he saw and did. And nothing gave him more pleasure than to look into the camera and smile. -Larry

Frank had a wonderful sense of humor. During his last days, his mind was sharp and reflected his fine sense of wit. While watching interviews of the Presidential candidates, Frank commented to Slim(his son, Larry)that "Someone should go outside and dig a large hole in the garden." When asked why Frank concluded "Because we have to put all the bull____ somewhere". During another conversation the topic of Cape Hatteras came up. It was mentioned that the bluefish were probably starting to run at the Cape. Frank quickly commented that "They have my permission." Frank the Beachcomber had a wonderful view of life and never forgot that humor is an essential element of that view. His anecdotes on life will be missed. -Larry

Sadly, I never met Frank the Beachcomber, though my wife Katherine Shaughnessy met him a few times. She spoke of a joyful old man in stories so compelling that I wanted to drive out there to see for myself (and despite planning this several times, never did). Katherine portrayed him in vivid colors, describing how he shared with visitors his found objects, sayings, and songs. In my mind's eye, he was warm, twinkling, and a bit mischievous. But I never knew him. Perhaps I'll read stories of him here. My regrets to all the Zuikers on this sad day. -Tom Michael, Chicago

Erin and I were going through a bucket of seashells we found on the black sand beaches of Paama Island, and among the spotted cowries and the giant Pacific clams and the sea urchin spines, I found nearly 30 years of memories. Grandpa Zuiker, the one and only Frank the Beachcomber, introduced me to shells. I remember standing on the earthen dock at Raven's Roost, looking into the water to see a pile of shells that some raccoon had left. I wanted to reach in and claim those shells as my own. Instead, Grandpa walked me up to his camper, dug around in one of his many coffee cans, and pulled out a shiny olive shell. For the next 20 years he was always giving me shells. In Vanuatu last year, I finally got the chance to repay him in trade goods, bags and bags of seashells - limpets and cowries and even a paua or two - that Enna and Mereva and the other village girls helped collect from the beach. Once, Mereva put a clamshell to her ear and looked up at me. "Halo. Halo," she said. I imagined she was answering a call from Frank the Beachcomber. He would have liked to have been on the beach with us at that very moment. - Anton

As a kid you live for the days when your dad is taking you out fishing to a slough, a pond, or Tomahawk.  Now, as an adult I live for the magical days when my dad finally agrees to go outside the house in his wheelchair to inspect his tomato plants. That was my week long goal and my joy this morning. Dad got dressed and we wheeled him out to see the strawberries, the tomato plants and all the flowers. We were outside 20 minutes and he got the first sun on his skin in months. It was a special moment. -Joe

It was probably about 30 years ago, maybe a little less.  We had gone up to Tomahawk in the days before such things as sonar, and water temperature and other gismo's. The Wisconsin river was still a river we seldom fished on, and for that matter we didn't really fish the "Bay of Pigs" yet either, (this was before dad's famous Bay of Pigs battle with the huge musky or pike. We were fishing Lake Claire of something like that and Dad, John and I were in boat trolling back and forth. Suddenly I felt a tug on the line far below and thought "oh great, another stump." But this was on stump.  This was a fish.   I set the hook as dad said I should and began to reel this fish in.  I was all excited and freaking out as Dad as usual was calm and collected. He told me make sure I had set the hook and relax. Sure enough we managed to get the fish to the side of the boat and netted him. Not a huge northern pike but my first none the less. And yet some 30 years later it is not the fish that I remember most about that day, rather it was the way Dad stayed calm and focused on the task at hand. Because while I freaked out trying to bring this fish to the surface, Dad was lifting the oars out of the water and lifting the motor up so I did not lose my fish near the surface. This is what I remember about that day; a father spending time with his sons, and a father who always displayed compassion, wisdom, and common sense in every situation he found himself in. -Terry

Having lost all my own grandparents before I was 16, I have felt tremendously blessed to have shared in the lives of Anton's dear grandparents, Louis and Virginia Sisco and Frank and Clarice Zuiker. Frank the Beachcomber will always hold a special place in my heart, I will never forget my first visit with Frank and Clarice where we explored the magic and wonder of studio 3. I was transformed into a school girl playing dress up while I tried on a myriad of jewels crafted with dedication and love of the sea from which they came. We had cokes and cookies and Frank broke out the banjo to croon an inspiring love song to his sweetie before we left. While I was walking out the door, the infamous man looked sternly in my eyes and said that I would need to balance my accounts with an ample supply of trade goods. Now, Anton had told me about trade goods on our first date to the Shaker Lakes where we found a twisted branch that he thought would make "good tradegoods". I eagerly wanted to unravel the mysteries of this guy who would put a mangled branch in his pocket and the concept of tradegoods. Well, it took about 4 years for my first visit to studio 3 and I was honored and up to the task of providing quality tradegoods. During our 2 years in Peace Corps, we often received stories from Frank the Beachcomber, written to Anton and the China Doll -- tales of fishing and doctors appointments, of journeys across tundras and escapades to the local Walmart -- stories of inspiration and imagination from this great man. The kids and I would routinely comb the beaches of our tiny Pacific paradise collecting boxes and boxes of shells for "Abu Frank" back in Chicago. Looking out across the Pacific, I often wondered what songs Frank the Beachcomber was singing to the lovely Clarice and with a smile on my face, a skirt full of shells and joy in my heart, I would return to our humble home and sing a song to my own love. It is with deepest sympathies for all of the Zuikers that I share in the loss of Frank the Beachcomber. -Erin Shaughnessy Zuiker

I have so many memories of Grandpa. I have listed some adjectives and things that remind me of Grandpa:
love, fishing, trade goods, shells, brownies with cheese on top, Grandma, camping, Tomahawk, jewelry, music, banjo, him calling me Sally or Mary, saving envelopes or cans, writing everything down, traveling, stories of their trips, flowers, strength, caring, wise, baseball, chronicles, pictures, marriage, I could go on and on. Grandpa was such a wonderful man, he has taught me so many things about life and family. I believe that I am a very blessed person to have been able to have such a great man and role model as my grandpa. Thank you Grandma for taking such wonderful loving care of our Grandfather. I dream of a marriage like the one that Grandma and Grandpa have had for so long. Thank you Grandpa for everything you have taught me and showed me about life. I will never, ever forget you. You were always my favorite guy!!! -Katy Nolan

Frank the Beachcomber
Francis C. Zuiker
1910 - 2000

Francis Zuiker is interred at
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
6001 111th Street
Worth IL

Flowers, gifts and other items may be delivered to
The Zuiker Home
292 Juniper Stree
Park Forest, IL 60466

  • Husband of Clarice
  • Father of

  • Grandfather and great-grandfather
    of many

Please contribute your recollections, memories and words of tribute to Frank the Beachcomber.
Send them now. 

See Frank's photography. Go.

Read the Chicago Tribune obituary for Francis. Click here.

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Nobody sees a flower, really - it is so small - we haven't time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
- Georgia O'keeffe

Today, I am grateful for having shared part of this journey with such a great man and his great family and for all of the love and the wonderful memories. As I sip tea on this cold and rainy autumn day, I recall the many hours we spent at the Outer Banks this time of the year. Hours inside and outside the trailer. Rain or shine -- it didn't matter. If the weather was bad, okay, so what, there was still fishing to be done, still another spot to try. We were secure in the knowledge that there was a warm and cozy trailer on the other side of the bridge, a place guaranteed to provide refuge. "Taj" would be there. And in the morning, more folks would probably arrive. I wonder how many people shared great times in that 12' mobile home over the years? Not just in North Carolina, but in California and Arizona and Texas and Florida. The Outer Banks. That October day when the trout r-e-a-l-l-y hit. Point Lookout. The prize-winning fish! Tomahawk. The Raven's Roost. Early mornings on the lake, and early morning banjo serenades. The man who brought it all to us, Francis Zuiker. I learned a lot from that happy man. As an artist and philosopher, he once likened human personality to clay, saying that how you treated them would show in the results. With rough treatment, you might end up with something you didn't want. You had to be gentle to see the potential unfold. You could see the beauty in his family and in his artwork. Francis certainly saw potential. In himself and in others. What a teacher, I still learn from him. I used to love going into his craft studio to see his works in progress. He would talk about his latest findings -- what kind of clasps worked best with sharks teeth and the latest objects he was using to design his "Sculpease" beads. He would point out the eagle or the owl he saw in a piece of driftwood. He'd tell stories about the folks who bought his jewelry, his observations of their behavior and things they said. His face would light up when he laughed. As an inventor, Frank appreciated simple things that got the job done. I remember watching as he would draw in "unsuspecting new-comers" to see his latest "gadget," the vegetable slicer. You remember it, don't you? No, you don't remember it? Well, here's how it went. After he had peaked your interest, Frank would get an onion or a tomato and slice it in half. Then, he would place half of it on the spike on the top piece of the gadget, talking all the while. For the demonstration, he would enthusiastically slide the onion (or tomato) across the base piece that held the long, horizontal blade. You see, sliced onions for our many salads. (Where was Frank when they were auditioning for someone to demonstrate the Vege-matic on TV?) Anyway, you had to love it as much as he did. His enthusiasm was contagious. He'd beam, and then parade out the next gadget, like the notepad that attached to the dashboard of his truck. (Very handy indeed, for one who needed many places to record the fruits of his ever-fertile mind and imagination.) I remember annual gatherings at the Raven's Roost, where in a communal spirit, there would be a crackling fire blazing, delicious salad with onions sliced with the slicer, spaghetti being prepared on various indoor and outdoor stoves, and melodious banjo, guitar, and vocal sounds rising up through the pines. (Listen carefully, can't you hear "Sweet Georgia Brown" right now?) What a wonderful storyteller Frank was! When I go to a sports event today, I imagine that I see the Zuikers all working there. Walking up and down the steps of the stadium, selling hotdogs (wrapped by Clarice and daughters -- a clever idea on someone's part), peanuts, "frosties," and of course, "Cold BEER." But, you know what, now that I think about it -- that probably comes from everyone's shared recollections of those days, not just Frank's! Hardworking. Industrious. Loving. Creative. Tender. Tough. Adventurous. Energetic. Opinionated. Enthusiastic. Charming. Grounded. Determined. Optimistic. A sense of self. A sense of whimsy. A sense of humor. A sense of right and wrong. A sense of duty. As a lover of life, Francis embraced it, created it, cherished it and recorded it. He participated, he observed and he reflected. He created metaphors. If I recall correctly, there was more than one chronicle which started out, "Life is like…". As some of you may know, I have a "second mother," Peggy Wilson, who died several years ago. I think of her often and tell others how very special she was, and still is, to me. She and Frank were alike in many ways. Today, through the tears, I realize that Francis Zuiker is my "second father." I know that I am a better person for having spent time with Francis and his "Clarissa," (his "Taj" / our "Taj!") and their children and grandchildren and extended family. I'm glad I told Frank, last May, that he had been like a father to me. Recently and once again, I learned the hard way that we should quickly act on our loving intentions. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got a compliment on one of Frank the Beachcomber's original necklaces. This one was adorned with treasures from Hawaii. I thought I would write to him and Clarice and tell them that my personal jeweler was still getting oohs and aaahs on their shared creations. I didn't, and I wish I had. That's one little regret. But, this is about Frank, not me. Live and learn and pass it on -- through stories, writings or photographs. Tell the story. Write it down. Be passionate about your hobbies! Don't believe anyone who tells that you can't do something until you give it a fair try. Speaking of trying, try new things. That's what our Dutchman did. (How old was he when he learned to play the banjo?) With a heart full of love, Francis would grip his banjo and say, "This one is for my beautiful wife, Clarissa,…"…(plinka plink) …"five foot two, eyes of blue…"(plinka plinka) …Wait…No. Oh, yes! I remember now. That's what he would say before he played and sang the "Hawaiian Love Song." -Nancy Swift