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James F. "Frank" Pritchard

July 29, 1927 July 10, 2015
James F. "Frank" Pritchard
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Obituary for James F. "Frank" Pritchard

Frank was born in Lancaster, California, to William J. Pritchard and Gertrude M. Strong Pritchard. The family lived on the Pritchard Ranch raising cattle and alfalfa until the Great Depression prompted the loss of the ranch. Moving to town, the family fell on hard times as did many of that era. At the age of 10, Frank helped the family by going to work at Dale’s Meat Co., a nearby slaughterhouse and meat packing company, where he worked after school and Saturdays for 25 cents a day. He attended Antelope Valley High School, excelling in football, basketball and high diving. He worked in logging camps during his summer vacations in the Huntington-Shaver Lake area of California. Graduating early in 1945, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Navy to join the war effort. He served aboard the U.S.S. Passaic, AN-87, as seaman first class, receiving the World War II Victory Medal for duty served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. He was honorably discharged in July 1946. He married his first wife, Mary Ellen Ditty, in 1947 and moved to Oceanside, California, then to Escondido, California, completing his electrician’s apprenticeship while concurrently reenlisting in the United States Navy Reserve as a submariner. He worked for the San Diego Gas & Electric Co. as an apprentice and journeyman lineman until 1961. Now divorced and, on the advice of one of his crewman, he contacted a contractor seeking a project manager for work in Liberia, West Africa, via a job posting in the IBEW Journal. Frank secured the position and worked in West Africa managing native African crews to run electrical service into the various outlying villages. Here, he met Etelvina Clara de Sousa Teixeira of Lisbon, Portugal, and they were married in January 1963. His career as an IBEW member spanned more than 60 years. Frank worked as a project manager and lead supervisor in West Africa (1961-1963), Indonesia (1966-1968), Lahore, Pakistan, (1970-1971) and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, (1979-1982). He continued domestic work between overseas projects and deployments in Southern California. He climbed his last pole, “old school style,” as a journeyman lineman and retired at the age of 72 in 1999 while living in Morro Bay, California. Frank and Clara moved to Harbor in 2003. Frank’s passion in life was traveling the world and living abroad, learning about the cultures in which he and Clara lived. While in Saudi Arabia, his crew encountered Bedouins in the desert and they invited him to share a meal as an honored guest. The meal took place in nomadic tents where a goat was roasted and served with dates, figs and traditional tea. He was a keen fisherman, student of history, proud father, grandfather and mentor to many he encountered. James Franklin “Frank” Pritchard was preceded in death by his parents William J. and Gertrude M. Pritchard; sisters, Margaret “Margie” Pritchard and Ida Lenore Pritchard Ritter; brother, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. William John Pritchard; children Roxanne M. Eggers of Lewsville, Texas, James F. “Skip” and Renee Pritchard of Walla Walla, Washington, and Charles F. and Diane Pritchard of Bend; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. There will be a dual memorial service for Clara and Frank Pritchard at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, at McVay Rock State Recreation Site on Oceanview Drive in Harbor. James F. “Skip” Pritchard, USN honor guard and the Marine Corps League will preside. Memorial donations may be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation, 1619 D St., Virginia Beach, VA 23459, www.navysealfoundation.org

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