By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
BEACON FALLS — Frank Mis had plenty of stories to tell, and he was more than willing to share them with anyone who would lend an ear.
“He was a walking history book,” American Legion Post 25 Commander Bruce Carlson said.
Mis, a World War II veteran and Beacon Falls native, died April 21 at the age of 103.
Mis served in the U.S. Army, 45th Division, 209th Signal Pigeon Company, from 1942 to 1945. He served in the European theatre of WWII, starting in Sicily, Italy. Mis’ younger brothers, Ted and Edmond, who predeceased him, also served in WWII.
Mis, who retired from Uniroyal in 1979 as a supervisor, was a dedicated member of American Legion Post 25 for 60-plus years. An independent man even at the age of 103, Mis was a fixture at legion meetings and veterans’ ceremonies around town, where he would often share stories from the war and town history long after the ceremonies ended with anyone and everyone who would listen.
Carlson said legion members affectionately joked, “If he made eye contact with you, you’re all done.”
All kidding aside, Carlson said everyone would listen not just out of respect for Mis but for the knowledge and amazing stories he shared.
“He always had a good line or a good joke, and he’d smile,” American Legion Post 25 Adjutant Richard Minnick said.
Post members weren’t the only ones to benefit from Mis’ history lessons. He was an indispensable participant at veteran forums hosted by Woodland Regional High School.
“He really, really enjoyed that — meeting with the youth at the high school,” Minnick said.
Typically, there are two veterans at a table talking with students during the forums. Mis got his own table, Carlson said, and he would often say there was never enough time because he had so much history to share.
Mis would bring a briefcase with him to the forums filled with memorabilia from the war, including letters, photos and maps. Carlson said he would ask teachers to make copies of some of the memorabilia to give to students.
“So, everybody got a piece of history,” Carlson said.
Minnick described Mis as a “stand-up person,” and Carlson said Mis had a commitment that is rarely seen today.
Carlson, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Iraq in 2005, recalled Mis’ reaction whenever someone complained about an 18-month tour of duty overseas. Carlson said Mis always pointed out that he served for three years during WWII, adding that there was a job do to and no one came home until it was finished.
Carlson said Mis was from a different generation.
“I just wish more people had the same values today,” he said.