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Remembering the "Frank Smile"

by Lynnette Harris

People planting trees
Frank M. DeLeon Compres

In late September, the plaza adjacent to the Albrecht Agricultural Sciences Building gained a new tree that stands as a memorial to Frank M. DeLeon Compres, who died July 18, 2016, in a plane crash during a solo flight in Cache Valley.

His family, several friends, and faculty and students in USU’s aviation technology program honored him by recalling the infectious joy and energy Compres brought to everything he did. Aviation faculty member Randy Chesley referred to the “Frank smile” that could lift up those around him who were feeling down.

“July 18 has never been the same for me,” Chesley said. “I’ll always remember a young man who thought and cared more about others than he did about himself.”

Assistant Professor Andreas Wesemann said Compres left a legacy in the aviation program because faculty there will always remember him and his love of flying. Weseman recalled being at breakfast on campus one morning with high school students who were participating in a summer aviation course and Frank stopping by to meet them.

“I remember him coming by to meet the students and to talk about flying,” he said. “And Frank would always say, ‘I can see who got to fly yesterday because they are still smiling,’”

His mother, Maria, has been presented with the diploma for Frank’s bachelor’s degree with magna cum laude honors in aviation technology. She told of how members of his family visited the relatively remote site of the crash a year ago to plant a tree there. They were careful to get advice on what kind of tree to plant and how to plant it, but it did not thrive and eventually died.

“Now this tree will be here, where Frank was,” she said. “It will be where he grew as a young man. Where he loved people. It makes sense for the tree memorializing his life to be in the midst of the life on campus.”