Frank Willard Zurn Obituary – Erie Times-News


Frank Willard Zurn was born in Erie, January 18, 1927. Born in a snowstorm and barely making it to the hospital to give birth, his mother claimed she was still wearing his galoshes and he had been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Frank liked to talk. Her wonderful parents were Melvin and Marian Zurn. He grew up on the Erie waterfront and he loved Erie. As a child, he was on the cover of Ladies Home Journal, often called upon to serve as a model for George Ericson’s paintings. He was educated at the Choate School, Wallingford, CT and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. At Choate he was co-captain of the squash team with co-captain of the swimming team Tom Kempner, played trombone in the band and held the lead in the senior game as Sir Joseph Porter .

While at Cornell, he was captain of the cheerleading squad, business manager of Cornellian, and a scholar in swimming, diving, and cheerleading. After graduating, he served in the United States Navy as an electronics specialist. After serving in the Navy, he moved to New York, lived at the downtown athletic club, and began selling Zurn products, primarily mechanical drives to refineries, power plants, and the United States Navy. He became director in 1951, president in 1965, and president of Zurn Industries in 1973 at the age of 38. Under Mr. Zurn’s leadership, Zurn Industries, Inc. grew from $12 million in annual sales in 1965 to over $400 million, acquiring such companies. as, Erie City Iron Works, Griswold Manufacturing, Près Isle Plastics, Hays Manufacturing, Haysite, Bayview Forge, Erie Engine and Manufacturing Co., General Air, Tulsa Heat Exchange Co, Swaruthwat, Kokomo Indiana, Claridge Fan, The Robert Irsay Co. in Chicago, Vinylnex, Lamar, Cosco Fire Protection, Ludwig Engineering Science, Nepco and Lynx Golf Clubs to name a few. As a testament to his taking over as president of a multi-million dollar corporation before reaching the age of 40, he was elected to the Young President’s Organization of America, the Chief Executive Organization and the World Business Council. The vast experience has qualified him as a respected author and lecturer. He has written articles or appeared before many organizations. Mr. Zurn has also spoken to literally hundreds of security analysts and others in the financial community. He has been listed in “Who’s Who in America” ​​and “Leaders in America Science”. Director of Zurn Foundation, Cornell Research Foundation, Trustee of Choate School and St. Vincent Health Center. Fellow of the Cornell Club of Sarasota, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Naval Engineers, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, Newcomen Society of North America, Northwestern PA Humane Society and served as Vice President of the Pennsylvania Society in New York . A member of the Erie Yacht Club since 1954, Mr. Zurn was elected Commodore in 1961.

Mr. Zurn is known in the boating world as the owner of Kahili, a McCurdy sloop and Rhodes 61, which is named after his daughters, Karen, Heidi and Lisa. Mr. Zurn was an avid sailor in competitive races around the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. He won the Mackinac race consecutively in Port Huron and Chicago, Queens Cup, Navy Challenge Cup, Lyman Cup, Falcon Cup. and numerous Great Lakes races. He traveled all over the world and really enjoyed his time on earth. A bit of a daredevil, he ran the Cresta Run in St. Moritz. As Frank Sinatra would say…he made mistakes along the way…but again too few to mention. He did it his way. Besides his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he is survived by his brothers, David and Roger, both of Erie, his sons, Peter of Erie and Doug of Marblehead RI, his daughters, Karen and Heidi of ‘Erie and his wife of 43 years, Martha Jane. Private arrangements entrusted to Burton Quinn Scott Cremation & Funeral Services Inc., Downtown, 602 W. 10th St., Erie. Donations may be made in his honor to the Humane Society of Erie PA, 2407 Zimmerly Rd., Erie, PA 16506.

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Posted on October 22, 2022

Posted in Erie Times-News


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