Frank Shankwitz, a Founding father of Make-a-Want, Is Useless at 77

Frank Shankwitz, an Arizona Freeway Patrol officer who, after serving to a terminally ailing boy notice his dream of turning into a bike cop, co-founded the Make-a-Want Basis and served as its first president, died on Jan. 24 at his house in Prescott, Ariz. He was 77.

His spouse, Kitty Shankwitz, stated the trigger was esophageal most cancers.

Mr. Shankwitz was on patrol in April 1980 when considered one of his supervisors radioed him to return to headquarters in Phoenix. The division had discovered a couple of boy named Chris Greicius who needed to be a bike officer when he grew up, similar to Ponch and Jon, the primary characters on his favourite tv present, “CHiPs.” He additionally had end-stage leukemia.

The division had determined to make Chris’s want come true, if only for a couple of days. A police helicopter ferried him to police headquarters from the hospital the place he was being handled. Mr. Shankwitz was to greet him out entrance, subsequent to his bike.

“Figuring he’d be introduced out in a wheelchair, I used to be shocked when the door opened and a pair of sneakers emerged,” Mr. Shankwitz wrote in his memoir, “Want Man” (2018). “Out stepped Chris, an excited 7-year-old boy who appeared so vigorous it was exhausting to imagine he was sick.”

Mr. Shankwitz confirmed Chris his bike, and after he and the opposite officers gave him a badge, the top of the division made him an honorary officer. Chris was feeling effectively sufficient to go house that evening, and the following day the officers introduced him a custom-made uniform.

To turn into a bike officer, although, Chris needed to move a driving take a look at — which he did, in his entrance yard, on his small battery-powered bike. Mr. Shankwitz promised to carry him a particular badge worn by bike cops; he additionally known as NBC, the community that aired “CHiPs,” and requested for the present’s stars, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, to autograph a photograph.

The subsequent day Chris was again within the hospital, and by the point Mr. Shankwitz arrived with the badge and the image, he had fallen into a lightweight coma. Chris had hung his uniform by the mattress, and as Mr. Shankwitz pinned the badge on his shirt, the boy wakened.

“Am I an official bike cop now?” Chris requested.

“You certain are,” Mr. Shankwitz replied.

Chris died later that day. Mr. Shankwitz and a colleague attended his funeral, in Southern Illinois, borrowing a pair of Illinois Freeway Patrol bikes to accompany the hearse.

On the flight house, Mr. Shankwitz tried to course of all that had occurred. He realized that what the division had completed for Chris, he and his pals may do for different youngsters.

Earlier than he landed, he had sketched a plan for what just some months later turned the Make-a-Want Basis. At the moment the group has 64 chapters in america and 36 internationally, which have delivered “needs” —  starting from “eat in a restaurant” to “meet the pope” —  to greater than 500,000 critically ailing youngsters.

Frank Earle Shankwitz was born on March eight, 1943, in Chicago. His father, Frank Paul Shankwitz, was a salesman at Montgomery Ward. His mom, Lorraine Geraldine (Mathews) Shankwitz, was a waitress.

His mother and father separated when he was 2 and fought bitterly over his custody — his mom kidnapped him a number of occasions, solely to work out an uneasy association along with his father. When Frank was 10 she took him together with her to Arizona, the place they lived in a trailer within the city of Seligman, positioned shut sufficient to the Nevada border that Mr. Shankwitz recalled seeing the glow from atomic bomb exams.

Mr. Shankwitz joined the Air Drive instantly after highschool and served for 5 years as a army police officer, principally at bomber bases in England. He left the service in 1965 and moved to Phoenix, the place he labored for Motorola and enrolled in evening lessons at a area people faculty.

Although he was quickly constructing a white-collar profession — by 1970 he had a spouse, two youngsters and a mortgage and had earned a university diploma and a sequence of promotions — he was rising stressed with workplace life. A few of his highschool pals had joined the Arizona Freeway Patrol, and it didn’t take a lot cajoling for him to use. He was accepted in 1972; in 1975 he turned a part of an elite bike unit, assigned to patrol the complete state.

In 1978 Mr. Shankwitz was pursuing a drunken driver when one other drunken driver blindsided him. His companion pronounced him useless, however a passing off-duty nurse carried out CPR, resuscitating him. It took him over a 12 months to get better, and it was shortly after he returned to responsibility that he met Chris Greicius.

Mr. Shankwitz and 5 different individuals based the Make-a-Want Basis in 1980, a couple of months after Chris’s funeral. It grew quickly: Inside a couple of years it had turn into a nationwide group, with state chapters opening virtually month-to-month.

Along with his spouse, he’s survived by two daughters, Christine Chester and Denise Partlow; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His first marriage, to Sue Darrah, led to divorce.

Mr. Shankwitz by no means took a wage from Make-a-Want and remained an active-duty state trooper till 1996; he later labored for the state division of motor autos. He twice obtained the President’s Name to Service Award and was the topic of the 2019 biopic “Want Man,” starring Andrew Metal as Mr. Shankwitz.

Mr. Shankwitz stepped down as president of the inspiration in 1984. However he remained its most seen ambassador for many years, touring the nation to advise chapters and meet with “want children.”

“I get up every single day with a ardour to make a distinction of their lives,” he wrote in his memoir. “It was as soon as sufficient for me to be a dad, a cowboy and a freeway patrol officer. However my vacation spot modified.”

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