Frank Kiolbassa '64 September 28, 2022 4:33 PM updated: September 28, 2022 4:47 PM
Frank Richard Kiolbassa
March 6, 1942 - September 2, 2022
After an exemplary life dedicated to the service of others, Frank Richard Kiolbassa has been called home to the Lord. Frank will be remembered for his warm-heart, his good deeds, and his ability to push forward with grace and dignity in even the most difficult of circumstances.
Preceded in death by his parents Frank and Bessie Kiolbassa, his first wife Mary, daughter Jean, and stepson Dale. He is survived by his wife Sheila, brother Tommy, son Frank (ShaLa), daughter Barbara (Richard), stepsons Gary (Donna), Mark (Bobbi), Richard (Hilary), his many cousins and his beloved grandchildren: Jared (Chelsea), Jacob, Emily, Frank, Julie, Samantha, Aiden, Gabriella, Melanie (Billy), Gregory (Chen), Corina, Zachery, John, Sarah, Jasmine, Chloe, and great-grandson Easton.
Frank was born to Frank and Bessie Kiolbassa (née Mikolajczyk) in San Antonio on March 6th 1942. He had fond memories of youthful escapades with his brother Tommy and their many Kiolbassa cousins in San Antonio and on their family farm in the Polish enclave of St. Hedwig. He was active in sports and Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout and took part in supervising many summer Boy Scout Camps.
Frank attended Central Catholic High School and graduated in 1960. He attended Texas A&M University, serving in the Corps of Cadets as Wing Commander and as a Sul Ross Volunteer. He earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering in 1964 and 1965, respectively.
Frank served in the USAF from 1965 until 1969, attaining the rank of Captain. He was a Combat Engineer, Vietnam Veteran, and recognized for his outstanding leadership on deployment to South Korea in response to the U.S.S. Pueblo incident.
Frank started working with the City of San Antonio in 1969 and served as Director of Public Works from 1978 until 1991, serving under Lila Cockrell and Henry G. Cisneros. He managed the annual budget and oversaw more than a billion dollars in reconstruction projects including the original renovation to Hemisfair Plaza, improvements related to the River Center Mall, and major improvements to Olmos Dam. The award-winning Olmos refit employed many groundbreaking processes, and this infrastructure is credited with saving downtown San Antonio from catastrophe during the major flooding that occurred on May 25, 2013.
Frank’s most famous accomplishment, however, happened in 1984, when the City of San Antonio made the decision to save the historic Fairmount hotel from demolition. Frank led the project to move the hotel. On April 4, 1985 at an approximate cost of $1 million, the 3.2 million pounds of brick and mortar structure was lifted onto rollers, trussed with bands of steel and moved five blocks to its present location next to the La Villita National Historic District. The move was national and international news featured in more than 30 foreign countries. It is the largest building to have ever been moved intact.
Throughout his professional career, Frank was recognized for many accomplishments, including TSPE Engineer of the Year for Bexar County, Texas in 1982.
After leaving Public Works, Frank taught with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services until 1997 when he established his own engineering business and was an engineering and public works management consultant for the World Bank and the US Conference of Mayors. He also started a non-profit dedicated to training municipal employees in waste handling in Texas and adjoining states.
He sold the companies in April 2010 and retired from professional life.
Frank has served the church and community as an ordained Catholic Deacon from 1975 to 1992. He was a youth minister and teacher for 40 years, a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, and was President of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul Southwest Texas until his passing. He spent nearly every day of his retirement following the example of Jesus by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and working with many other charities.
He loved hunting, fishing, and gardening. He enjoyed trips to England and Poland, where he finally met relatives his family had corresponded with for over 100 years.
Frank was a generous and kind man who saw the best in all of us. He always had a kind word and a helping hand. He will be deeply missed and loved forever.
Services will be held at Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church on Friday September the 16th starting with a Rosary at 9:15 am followed by a Mass at 10:00 am. Reception to follow in the Church Hall.
Burial will be at Fort Sam Houston on Monday September 19th at 9:30am.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to a charity of your choice or to St. Vincent de Paul Resurrection of the Lord, 7990 W Military Dr. San Antonio, TX 78227.
Arrangements are made by www.castleridgemortuary.com where may sign the guest book