Frank J Bertram passed peacefully on April 17th, at 93 years of age in Stockton, CA. Loving husband, father, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather he was preceded in passing by his wife of 68 years, Mary Glidden Bertram. He is survived by his daughters Kathleen (Jack) Stermer, Eileen (Mark) Kindelberger, and son Jim (Marcie) Bertram. Frank has 6 grandchildren, Kate (Todd) Gilliland, Megan (Jon) Townend, Dan (Sarah) Kindelberger, Allison Bertram, JP Bertram, Erinn Bertram and 4 great-grandchildren, Jackson, Kirby and Reilly Gilliland and Carly Townend.
Born in Patterson, New Jersey to Frank and May (Quigley) Bertram, Frank came west to San Francisco in 1930. In 1942 he joined the Army Air Corp and shipped out for training as a B-24 Navigator. As a 1st Lieutenant he flew 19 missions over German occupied Europe with the 8th Air Force out of Tibenham, England. On September 27, 1944 he participated in the infamous Kassel Mission air battle where 30 B-24’s and crews were lost. Frank’s B-24 was one of the planes lost, but he and 10 of 12 crew survived by bailing out near Bad Hersfeld, Germany. Injured in his jump as his parachute ripped through trees, he was discovered a day later hiding near a creek by a group of German youths who pointed him out to local civilian authorities. After Frank was treated by a local doctor, questioned by local military authorities he was shipped out to spend the balance of the war in Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany.
In 1986, he was contacted by one of the youths, Walter Hassenflug, who had found Frank 42 years earlier and, as an adult, was conducting extensive research on the Kassel Mission air battle. This started a series of correspondence and subsequent visits to Germany which eventually led to the formation of the Kassel Mission Memorial Association ( now KMHS) and a Memorial dedication near Ludwigsau, Germany to honor the American airmen (118) and German airmen (18) who perished that day. Through the Association, Frank became close friends with both his surviving American airmen as well as several of the surviving German fighter pilots. You can read Franks’ incredible story at http://kasselmission.com//trueAccounts.html
After the war, he and his wife Mary began their family in Redwood City, eventually settling in Stockton in 1950, raising their family until moving to their dream home in Woodbridge in 1980. In 2001, they moved to San Carlos for 5 years, before moving back to Stockton in 2006. Frank was well known for his infectious sense of humor, remarkable memory and his incredible story telling ability. His uncanny timing for one-liners over the years continues to make us laugh today. A loyal SF Giants fan, he also loved the game of tennis, (playing well into his late 60’s), golfing at Woodbridge Country Club.
Frank joined his late wife Mary with a private interment service at Golden Gate National Cemetery.
Thank you for your service Frank; you will be greatly missed.