M. Frank "Frank" Thurmond '51 June 16, 2023 1:28 PM updated: June 16, 2023 1:33 PM
M. Frank Thurmond
February 16, 1930 - June 1, 2023
Milam Frank Thurmond, Jr., ‘51, born to M.F. Thurmond Sr., and Ann Vance Thurmond in Bryan, Texas, on February 16, 1930 quietly passed away at his home on Thursday, June 1, 2023, after a lengthy illness.
When Frank was age twelve, the family moved to Austin for his father to start a vocational program during World War II. They spent five years there. While in high school Frank’s first creation was formed from parts, which he gathered from auto salvage yards all over Austin. His jalopy, patched together on a Model A frame, was his personal answer to the shortage of vehicles available during the war. Before leaving Austin, he met his first wife, Bettie Joy Bledsoe. They enjoyed a sixty-year marriage which produced three sons.
The day after high school graduation, Frank and his cousin, Tom Royder, “motored” to College Station in his jalopy and entered Texas A&M University. That year, the freshman class was housed at the Annex, now known as The Rellis campus. Frank did not make the football team at Austin High School because he did not weigh enough, so he started lifting weights. He organized the first Aggie weight lifting club his freshman year. During those years, Frank hitchhiked to Austin to pursue Bettie Bledsoe, and all over the Southeast to compete in weightlifting meets, even as far as Muscle Beach in California. During his junior year of ROTC, he switched from Army to Air Force, a decision he never regretted! He always said he graduated, he married, and received his orders to report to Korea all in the same weekend. Frank and Bettie’s first son, Frank III “Trey” was born there. Before leaving Korea, he earned the rank of Captain.
After Korea, Frank took his first construction job with Fisher Construction in Houston, moving his small family there to begin his career. After only one year in Houston, the family returned to Bryan where he was employed by R. B. Butler, Inc. In 1957, with the help of his uncle, B. F. Vance, he started his own firm with classmate Lynn Stuart which later became Thurmond and Stuart and eventually incorporated as Bryan Construction Company. In the next years, two more sons, Tim and David, were born completing the Thurmond family.
After forty-three years of successfully building in the Bryan and College Station area and Texas, the company was sold to a long-time friend and trusted employee. Frank took great pride in his company, setting high standards and valuing his employees and clients. Bryan Construction built many commercial buildings locally including banks, savings and loans, office buildings, the Bryan Library, the Brazos Civic Auditorium, the A&M Consolidated High School, as well as many new buildings and renovations on A&M’s campus. Frank’s Aggie pride was strongest when he was awarded the opportunity to build the original Olson Baseball Field. But, his expertise in construction was not limited to commercial and education buildings; there were homes, industrial buildings, and multi-family apartments. Frank built not just in this area; his buildings still stand in many areas of Texas. Bryan Construction built several projects in Austin, branch banks in many small towns, and numerous state parks in Texas. After years of commercial construction, Frank’s visionary interest inspired his specializing in the construction of many Water and Wastewater Treatment plants in this area and throughout the State.
In addition to Bryan Construction, Frank partnered with his three sons starting Classic Homes and Classic Realty in Bryan. Frank and his partners developed many subdivisions in Brazos County and the Brazos Valley.
Frank took great joy and satisfaction in serving this community in many civic organizations. He served on the Board of most of those organizations with which he was associated. Among those were BCS Chamber of Commerce, Brazos Valley Salvation Army, Brazos Valley Hospice, and Bryan Texas Utilities “BTU.” Frank also served on the Boards of the Brazos River Authority and Briarcrest Country Club. He served as President of the Bryan Economic Development Council and Bryan Noon Lions Club.
Everyone who knew Frank Thurmond knew that among his greatest passions were anything Texas A&M University. A man of great humility, his success enabled him to educate his sons, their children, friend’s children, and a multitude of Aggies, from the Corps of Cadets to athletes. He was pleased to invest in the lives of many Aggies as an endowed member of the 12th Man Association. Frank was an endowed member of the Century Club of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students. It was his great honor to be a legacy member of Texas A&M Development Foundation and to join the Class of ’51 in creating an endowment for the Silver Taps Ceremony.
Known for his kindness, Frank possessed an incredible work ethic but made certain that his family enjoyed time away from work as well. He loved family trips to Colorado; he loved fishing and hunting. He provided great family memories at the family’s lake house on Lake Limestone. Frank maintained contact with friends and business associates for his whole life. Recently, he spent much of his time contacting so many who had been key to the success of his businesses and those who shared his same passions, wanting to express his gratitude to each one.
Frank was one to express his gratitude for the life he lived. After becoming a widower, Frank’s brother-in-law encouraged him to reconnect with the woman who would be by his side for the last chapter of his life. Betty Johnson had worked for Bryan Construction for ten years as a young married woman in the 1970s and they remained friends for years. After building a new life for herself after her first husband’s death, Frank pursued Betty and eventually convinced her to leave Dallas and marry him. The wonderful years that followed were ones filled with travels, Aggie games, supper club friends, and both Frank and Betty accepting, embracing, and loving the other’s children and grandchildren.
An all-important event of his life was his commitment to Jesus Christ, made before he entered college. This decision served to shape his devotion to God, to family, and to his community. Frank was a life-long member of First Baptist Church of Bryan. He spent years supporting the ministries to this community by his congregation. He supported the work of missions to other countries. Frank Thurmond encouraged the pastors, the staff, the Deacons, and programs of his home church over the many years.
Frank was preceded in death by his parents, M.F. and Ann Vance Thurmond; his first wife Bettie Bledsoe Thurmond; sister, Ruth Thurmond Sullivan (Bob); and brother, Robert Thurmond (Nina).
Frank is survived by his wife of over ten years, Betty Johnson Thurmond; his three sons and their families: Trey and wife Khris, Tim (Ms. Gwynne Shillings), and David, all of Bryan; and step-daughter, Leslie Johnson (John) Chew of St. Johns County, Florida. Also, twelve grandchildren: Autumn (Justin) McEwen of Iola, Texas; Tricia (Chad) Bennett of Dallas; Travis Thurmond of Bryan; Traci (Will) Scott of Dallas; Teri (Jason) Holzdulick of Allen; Margaret Ann (Shane) Boeker of Nashville, Tennessee; Jake (Rachael) Thurmond of San Antonio; Davis Thurmond of Bryan and Sarah Thurmond both of Bryan; as well as his step-daughter Leslie Chew’s sons Presley, Banks, and Sterling Chew of St. Johns County, Florida; and twelve great grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins including niece Meg Atwood of Topeka, Kansas.
Frank penned much of these memories in a beautiful handwritten account of the memories of his life as a son, a husband, father, grandfather and uncle, an airman, a student, a creator, a businessman, a servant of his church and community, and an Aggie!! To his children and grandchildren, Frank left this message: “I pray that all of those I left behind: May God bless you and guide you on your life’s journey just as he did for me. Love to all! – Frank.”
The family would like to express their gratitude and appreciation to Senior Helpers, Healthquest Home Health, and Hospice of Brazos County for their exceptional care and expertise.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Memory of Frank Thurmond to the Building Fund of First Baptist Church of Bryan or any ministry or charity of your choice.