James W. Frankowsky
“Contentedly Quiet” and not just a Name on a Wall
This effort to create a short biography on the life of James W. Frankowsky in no way can do him justice. It is just an attempt to tell a brief story of one of over 1,450 Rye WWII veterans.
James W. Frankowsky by all accounts was born in Poland on Jan. 27, 1922. He emigrated to New York City as a Jewish refugee as a toddler. In 1925 James was either orphaned or abandoned and placed in the New York Foundling Hospital, listed as a black, male, age of three. Between 1853 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 poor, abandoned and orphaned children were placed primarily in the New York Foundling Hospital (NYFH) and the Children's Aid Society (CAS). Little is known about James upbringing at the orphanage in New York City.
We do know through the 1930 census that at the age of seven James was now living in Rye. He was a resident at the St. Benedict's Home for Destitute Colored Children, located at 391 Boston Post Road, which would be across from Rye Country Day.
Interesting that the1930 and 1940 Census did not list those living at the home as students, orphans or even children. All 152 residents were listed as inmates.
The St. Benedict's Home for Destitute Colored Children at Rye, New York, was under the auspices of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin and provided for the protection of homeless and destitute children. It was supervised by the Sisters of St. Francis.
The Home accommodated about 160. At the time of the 1940 census the population was 152, 84 girls and 68 boys. The institution was for the care of Catholic children, but occasionally destitute Protestant children were received and temporarily retained.
The institution was on the congregate plan covering eleven acres. The boys and girls lived separately. Children were received from four to fourteen years of age, and were retained until sixteen when necessary. The children received an elementary education with some, not all of them graduating.
In searching the old Rye Chronicles the name James Frankowsky returned seven results, the first from an article from June 1937. The article’s title read “Honor Paid Flag at St. Benedict's Home Exercises”, “American Legion Post of Harrison Sponsored Ceremony and Presented Flag to Home”. The ceremony was attended by many local dignitaries and the theme was to teach the children respect for the American flag.
The American Legion Post Commander James F. Arbuckle stated
''It is the symbol of what this nation stands for and the opportunities it offers you,'' the speaker said. ''The stars alone mean nothing and the stripes alone mean nothing: together they mean unity and strength, you Children must help and assist each other, together, bound in unity, you have strength.''
Mayor Livingston Platt welcomed the Harrison visitors to Rye.
''The flag to the white race in this country means our freedom from the tyranny of England; to the colored people it means their freedom from the oppression of slavery,'' he said ''To all of us it means freedom from bondage of any kind.''
After the exercises at the pavilion, a large flag was presented to the home. The group adjourned to the flag pole, where James Frankowsky, leader of the home band, raised the flag as the ' Legion color guard Under James Holton, acting sergeant-at-arms. presented the colors. Monsignor Murphy closed the exercises with benediction.
Well it appears young James was starting to stand out from his peers.The next year, 1938, he enrolled in Rye High School, a rare opportunity afforded to the “inmates”. James or Jimmy to his classmates, excelled in High School and a member of the National Honor Society. He was also a member of both the band and orchestra, and played in the various musical productions at the school. His memberships included the RHS G.O., the Scholarship Group and fittingly, The Self Reliant Club. His quotation in his senior yearbook page simply said,”Contentedly Quiet”.
Rye High School, Class of 1941
James graduated Rye High School in June 1941, In December the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered WWII. James and almost all of his classmates would enlist in the armed forces. A book could be written on the Class of 1941 for their service. James was a Master Sergeant in the US Army during WWII and served in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. (We have a way to find out more about James service SF-180 Request Discharge Record for James W. Frankowsky)
After the war James would return to his studies and earn his degree in Pennsylvania at Lincoln University. Lincoln University received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 29, 1854, making it the nation's first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
During its first 100 years, Lincoln graduated approximately 20 percent of the African American physicians and more than 10 percent of the African American attorneys in the nation. It must have been with great pride that in 1952 James accepted a position at Lincoln as a professor of Mathematics. He would teach there for the next 40 years and served many years as Chairman of the Department.
In 1989 Dr. Frankowsky was recognized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his development of the Medical Information Management System (MIMS). The purpose of the project was to develop a user friendly, comprehensive medical record tool that allowed physicians and other care givers quick access to patient data 24 hours a day.
It was designed to happen in an environment where a significant amount of care is provided in a team fashion. Where the various team members and the patient population are very mobile, patient data could be accessed from several physical locations by the different teams.
Dr. James W. Frankowsky 91, of Landenberg, PA passed away on March 25, 2013 at his residence. He was survived by his wife of 58 years Grace Jackson Frankowsky; one son Brian Frankowsky and 3 grandchildren.
The above is just a brief compilation of some of the facts we found doing quick searches on various internet sources. Dr. James W. Frankowsky, Born in Poland, Jewish refugee, Black destitute child, Designated an inmate at, St. Benedict's Home, Rye, N.Y., a catholic orphanage, Rye High School graduate, Master Sergeant in WWII, College graduate, 40 year professor of mathematics at Lincoln University, Recognized by Nasa for development of the Medical Information Management System (MIMS). Married 58 years with one son. Almost impossible to believe this was one individual.