Remembering Frank Stella
The late Frank Stella contributed an immense amount of good to all things Catholic . . .
The world saw a great man pass from this life on Sept. 27, 2010. Frank Stella exemplified what it means to be a Legatus member. He was a faithful ambassador of Legatus and many other worthy organizations — most importantly, the Church — through his final day.
The first time I met Frank was in his office in the early 1960s. He talked about the countless things that he was involved in — including the University of Detroit (now UD Mercy). In those days, it was the largest Catholic university in the country. Frank was the chairman of their board for many years and a large contributor. I had heard he gave the university $100,000. That was a lot of money in the early ’60s.
I went to Rome with Frank in the ’80s, and he was a celebrity. Many television cameras and media approached him. I learned that Frank was the founder and leader of an organization to improve Italian Americans’ image away from the Mafia caricature. Apparently it worked and worked well. He also knew where the best food was. With him, I enjoyed some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
When I started Legatus and needed a president for the first chapter, I asked Frank. He readily accepted. Under his leadership, Legatus was off and running. Our first two trips to Rome were sensational because of him. He knew everybody and they gave him anything he wanted.
Frank had been offered many political jobs because of his work in the Republican Party at the national level. He turned down appointments as Secretary of the Air Force, Ambassador to Italy and Ambassador to the Vatican. He was a lifetime member of Legatus’ board of governors (only one of three in our history). Frank also initiated the Legatus Endowment Fund. It helped, too, that he was one of the first members of the Young Presidents’ Organization — and was perhaps in on YPO’s founding along with Ray Hickok. Legatus owes a lot to Frank Stella, and so do I.
Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter. A longer version of this article is available at legatus.org.