Francis M. “Frank” Wnek

HARPSWELL – Longtime Harpswell resident Frank Wnek passed on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, after a short battle with cancer.

Born in Middletown, Connecticut, to Mitchell Wnek and Martha (nee Adamczyk) after his dad returned from service as a naval officer in World War II, he was the first born son and second in the family of four siblings. He lived in Middletown for six years and then moved to nearby Cromwell when his dad, friends and relatives built a house there.

In sixth grade (1960) the family moved to Cumberland, Rhode Island, when dad got a new job.

Frank graduated from Cumberland High School in 1967 and then went off to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from Annapolis in 1971.

His first assignment was on USS Detroit AOE 4 based in Newport, R.I., and he completed several Mediterranian deployments from 1971-1974. In June 1972 he and his lifelong love Meredith were married. In 1974 their first born son, Chris, came along.

Soon after, Frank went on to his next assignment – Naval Office Flight Training, and he received his wings in May 1975. His first assignment was VP-8 in Brunswick, when he and his family discovered Maine and their strong association with the state began. In his three-year tour in VP-8 he completed a Rota, Spain/Lajes, Azores deployment and two Bermuda deployments.

Second son, Andrew (a Maine native) was born on Memorial Day 1977 at the old Regional Hospital in Brunswick.

For his next assignment, he relocated with his family to the West Coast (after pooling his savings and purchasing a piece of property in Harpswell) and attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, reining a master’s degree in national security affairs.

In 1980, the family set off on another adventure when Frank was assigned to two consecutive operational flying tours out of Barbers Point, Hawaii. After five years it was time to get back to East Coast and be nearer to family, so Frank took an assignment in the Navy Department at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. But after all his operational experience, he felt like a fish out of water on staff duty. The commute, the paper chase, the artificial stressful environment – just didn’t suit him. The writing was on the wall, and after NOT selecting for command, he decided his 15-year Naval career had peaked and he resigned his commission. And the airlines were hiring.

His second career of 26 years was with American Airlines, where he promoted to Captain in his ninth year and flew as domestic captain on the MD-80, 737, 757 and 767, and for his last five years as international captain on the 757 and 767, flying primarily to Europe out of Boston. One can view a video of his retirement flight to Paris on YouTube, Cockpit Chronicles, Cast Frank’s Retirement Flight.

Concurrent with joining American Airlines, Frank and family relocated to Harpswell, where they built their dream house overlooking Harpswell Sound. The boys were settled for their junior and high school years and went on to college at Colby while Meredith started a career with LL Bean.

During his latter years with American Airlines, and while living in Harpswell, Frank found his leisure passions drew him to become owner of a classic Morgan British motor car, and an avid saltwater fly fisherman for Striped Bass (always catch and release). Upon retirement he served six years on the board of directors of a local medical and dental non-profit, and became active in his church’s activities, including chairing the Social Justice and Peace Commission and a member of the finance committee. He also started volunteering at the nearby Owls Head Transportation Museum as one of the “Hanger Boys”, working on the museum’s fleet of World War I-era aircraft. An accomplished piano and guitar player, he also recorded and produced numerous CD tributes, both solo and along with several old academy buddies.

Frank’s long lucky streak ended when Meredith was diagnosed with ovarian cancer soon after retiring from LL Bean. She passed in February 2023 after a tough, almost four-year, battle.

Ironically, Frank was diagnosed with Melanoma not six months later. It had already metastasized by the time it was discovered, and treatment was ineffective. He headed off on the next leg of his spiritual journey.

Frank is survived by his two sons, Christopher and Andrew, who both live in Maine, with Frank’s grandchildren, Tucker, Finn, Amelia and Audrey.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Tuesday, November 28, at 11 a.m., at St. John’s the Baptist Church, Pleasant Street, Brunswick. There will be no calling hours.

Arrangements are by Stetson’s Funeral Home, 12 Federal St. Brunswick, where condolences, memories and photos may be shared with the family at

Donations may be made in Frank’s memory to Oasis Free Clinics of Brunswick or CHANS Home Health Care and Hospice of MaineHealth.

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