Joe Samuel Frank

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Obituaries

Newport News—Joe Samuel Frank, 79, passed away Thursday, October 27, 2022, in his beloved city of Newport News.

A lifelong resident of the community, Joe was born to Harry and Dorothy Lilyan Frank, of blessed memory, and predeceased by his loving wife of 47 years, Jane Susan Glasser Frank. He is survived by their children: Shelly Ann Currin (Doug) of Newport News, Melissa “Missy” Clagg of Las Vegas, Nev., and Jason G. Frank (Jennifer) of Newport News; seven grandchildren, Justin and Jessica Currin, Brooks, Madison, and Bryce Clagg and Sydney and Carson Frank; brother Robert P. Frank (Leslie) and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Joe Frank has always believed that to whom much is given, much is required. That philosophy led him to a career as an attorney and public servant who never stopped looking for ways to aid and better his community. The enduring impact of his life’s work is evident throughout the city and will continue to benefit generations to come.

Joe grew up in an education-focused, civic-minded family. He graduated from Newport News High School, became president of the Young Leadership Council of the local Jewish community, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2009. Joe attended the University of Virginia, graduating with honors, followed by a law degree. He began his legal career as an intern at the firm of Battle, Neal, Harris, Minor & Williams and served his country as a member of the Virginia Army National Guard, which awarded him a Bronze Star Medal. As a partner with David, Kamp & Frank, Joe represented businesses, individuals, public bodies and agencies, and charitable, not-for-profit, public service, and cultural arts organizations, contributing more than 50 years as a respected member of Virginia’s legal community.

As a teenager, Joe campaigned for City Council candidates and in 1960 addressed the Council in favor of the city purchasing its first ambulance. As an adult, he volunteered on numerous campaigns, and eventually became chair of the local Democratic Party. Joe served on the Newport News City Council with honor, integrity, and devotion for a total of 22 years, including two terms as Vice Mayor and became the City’s first elected mayor serving for 14 years from 1996 to 2010.

Joe’s advocacy for his home community reached far beyond Hampton Roads. He met with five different U.S. presidents, five prime ministers, and countless other national and international government, business, and non-profit leaders. The welfare of the greater good was always his guiding force. He used every encounter to bring new opportunities and better quality of life to the people and community he served. Joe became one of the driving forces behind City Center, and encouraged the expansion of other companies like Canon, Ferguson, and the development of the Applied Research Center adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. Joe also served as chairman of the Oyster Point Development Corporation and fought to protect Fort Eustis during the Base Realignment and Closure round. After his public service, Joe stayed involved with numerous projects and organizations focused on the betterment and growth of the city, including Christopher Newport University where he served as a member of the Campaign Executive Council and championed the creation of the Endowed Professorship in Jewish Studies. In May of 2022, Christopher Newport University unveiled and dedicated the Jane Susan and Joe Frank Atrium, in recognition of their shared and immense contributions and service to the City of Newport News.

Joe was laid to rest at Hebrew Cemetery, Hampton, Va. A community remembrance will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 6 pm at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Christopher Newport University. Memorial contributions can be made to Rodef Sholom Temple, the Newport News Police Foundation, or to a charity of the donor’s choice. Weymouth Funeral Home.