We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Robert Massie Funeral Home
Frank Cortese, 96, of San Angelo passed away Wednesday, May 25, 2022, at his home.
Funeral services will be 1:00 PM Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Robert Massie Riverside Chapel.
Frank was born on July 22, 1925 in Temple to Phillip George Cortese and Catherine Billello Cortese of Temple. His parents immigrated to the United States from Sicily, in the early 1900s, Catherine in 1898 and Phillip in 1911. They settled on a farm in Knickerbocker. Frank grew up in San Angelo and attended the Pulliam School. He always reminisced about life in the 1930s and 1940s and the beautiful pecan trees at the Lowrance Swimming Pool. Frank's family moved to the Temple area in 1941 and settled in Little River.
At the age of 18, Frank joined the US Navy. He was stationed on the Naval Base in Corpus Christi, where he worked on the line and in maintenance. He went to A.O.M. school and aerial gunnery school and then transferred to California and the amphibian force known as the "Lion 8." He served in Hawaii, Eniwetok, Guam, and Okinawa during World War II. He mustered out of the Navy in 1946 as a Seaman First Class.
After the war, Frank worked on the family farm for a while, but his roots were in San Angelo. His first job was a bell boy at the St. Angeles (Cactus) Hotel where a lifelong friend, Raymond Taylor, gave him a job. Later Frank went to work for Homco Kadane Drilling, Wichita Falls Standlind Oil Company, and Franklin & Cowan Drilling Company in Ozona. Frank married Beverly in 1969 and together raised 4 beautiful children. They met and fell in love in the Ethicon Bowling League where they were members of the Pin Twisters quartet.
Frank had a 32-year career at Goodyear Proving Grounds as a high speed tire tester. He was chosen to go to Utica, Michigan to do high speed testing on the Studabaker Packard test track. He was then assigned to the new high speed five-mile circle for 10 years amassing 1,550,000 miles at 85-130 mph. He originated the private car program (Over the Road) under the direction of Jim Salladay. When Goodyear was competing for a million-dollar contract to build the Americo 120 Super Tire, he drove for 3.5 days at a speed of 120 mph never varying over ½ mph. He also had the privilege of being the Goodyear liaison for AJ Foyt and AJ Bignotti to test and tune their race cars on the high-speed circle in preparation for the Indy 500. He also tuned the car for Ray Nichols Engineering for the Daytona 500. He was the contributing factor originating the Goodyear Federal Credit Union serving as Vice-President for 5 years and on the Board of Directors. Frank was one of the founding members of the Wingfoot Gun Club and was President for 12 years.
One of Frank's favorite sports was driving race cars in the 1950s at the Speedbowl and Raceway Park in San Angelo. He drove stock cars and roadsters and quickly became a top competitor. He had many nicknames such as the Italian Stallion, Trophy Dash King, Baby Face and Ladies Choice.
Frank was an avid deer hunter and absolutely loved spending time with his son Phill at the Goodyear Proving Grounds hunting, fishing, cutting firewood, and driving the grounds. His other talents included writing songs, poetry, gardening, studying his law books, and playing the banjo and guitar. His most famous songs were: 'How Does Grandma Look to Grandpa,' 'Mommy,' 'A New Star Tonight in Heaven,' 'Between the Church and the Honky Tonk,' 'Tell me Yes or No,' and 'Close the Door Forever.' He also loved to entertain friends and family with his amazing card tricks. His greatest joy in life was spending time with his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Beverly Chapman Cortese of the home; his children, Symona Robles and husband David of San Angelo, BJ Bryant of Austin, and Phill Cortese, of San Angelo; his brother, Salvador 'Sonny' Cortese of San Angelo; 7 grandchildren, Dustin, Jessica, Taylor, Bailey, Kylee, and Kassidee; and 10 great-grandchildren; many nieces, and nephews. Frank is preceded in death by his father, Phillip in 1977, his mother, Catherine in 2003; his son, James Michael Cortese in 1993; grandson, Anthony Ryan Cortese in 1995; and his siblings, Anne Fuentes, Vince Cortese, Marie Miller, Georgia Mapes, Jannie Cortese and Jean Dale Cortese.
Frank's family would like to thank the loving nurses and aides at Kindred Hospice for their compassion and care in his final days.