Oftentimes, the story is more interesting than the headline.
That’s the case with the 140 granite memorial lampposts around the Baylor campus, reminders for those who notice them about Baylor alumni and students who were killed while serving in the military.
For the past 70 years, these lampposts and plaques bearing each fallen Bear’s name, rank, division, years at Baylor, and death date have stood thanks to the efforts of then Baylor psychology professor Anna Martin, who used the proceeds from her World War II newsletter about the Baylor soldiers to build the lampposts. Today, you can find lampposts and plaques remembering soldiers from every branch of the military from the Civil War to current-day conflicts.
But it took Frank Jasek ’73, a book preservationist and library information specialist in Moody Library, to dig deeper. He noticed them on a walk across campus in 1999, and then spent more than a decade uncovering the stories of these soldiers. Jasek’s 323-page coffee-table book, “Soldiers of the Wooden Cross,” was published in 2012 and he devotes two pages to each lamppost veteran, using letters, photos, newspaper clippings, poems, and nine aviation oil paintings by Jasek himself to tell their stories. The book also provides directions to each lamppost.
The story of the lampposts was published by Baylor Communications earlier this week, and here’s a link to that story.
Jasek is a retired ordained minister in the Catholic Church (Deacon) and was assigned, for a number of years, to the Catholic Student Center on the Baylor campus. He graduated from Southeastern University in 1969 with a B.S. in aviation and then returned to Baylor in 1972 after teaching flight at Vincennes University in Indiana.
We thought it only fair that since Jasek spent so much time on other people’s stories we could spend a bit of time letting you get to know him a bit better.
- How did your Baylor Experience shape your life? I was working at Library Binding Co, the family business. I thought it would be helpful to pick up my minor, Business management, so I enrolled at Baylor. I was only at Baylor a year so I did not have an opportunity to have an on-campus Baylor experience. My dad always bought season tickets to the football games from the 1960 to the 1970’s so we went to all the home Southwest Conference games. At the time, little did I know that Grant Teaff would write the Forward to my book or that I would even compile a book.
- Which Baylor professor had the greatest impact on you and why? (Emerson O.) Henke was helpful in getting me through accounting. (Editor’s Note: Dr. Henke, who passed away in 2007, was a Master Teacher and former dean of the Hankamer School of Business).
- The most memorable thing that happened to me at Baylor was…Walking across the stage wearing the cap and gown and a BBA in hand.
- My favorite place on the Baylor campus is…It was a short walk from Hankamer to the Moody Library, so I spent some time in the Library.
- One thing that’s not on my resume is…I have worked for Baylor for 20 years so I do not have a current resume.
- My superpower is…I am an organizer and able to see the big picture and I never give up.
- The proudest moment of my career to this point is…Some of the families’ reactions to the publication of my book as well as an award from the Texas Genealogical Society for the book. For my work at the Moody Library I did receive the Employee of the Year award a few years ago.
- I’m being inspired right now by…the lives of the saints.
- My creative process begins with…quiet time and prayer, which helped me to complete the aviation oil paintings for my book.
- The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is…Say your prayers, finish what you start, and put your tools away.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest success was… Never give up and you can’t do it alone.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest failure was…Try again
- My favorite Bible verse is John 21 15:17 because…To me that sums it all up.
- I get exercise by: Lap swimming when I can find the time — otherwise walking and hiking.
- For breakfast, I eat…Whatever goes good with coffee.
- The advice I give young college graduates is…Be grateful, Say your prayers, and drink plenty of water
- One thing (or place) I find overrated is…Bucket lists
- My favorite app is (and explain why or a cool way you use it): I don’t use apps.
- The best gift I’ve ever received is…other than my life and family is the monetary gifts that helped me publish the book (Editor’s Note: The list includes Central National Bank and Wardlow Claims Service).
- Every man (woman) should know how to…to be grateful
- If I could have one meal from the road again: It would be that moonlight winter sleigh ride with my wife Janet to a cabin in the mountains of Colorado for a steak.
- If I could walk in someone else’s shoes for 24 hours, they would belong to… Saint Joseph, my patron saint. I believe in the Communion of the Saints, those that pass away are still with us, much like the poem Soldiers of the Wooden Cross by Charles Henry Brent. I believe I was inspired to write the book because of them and their families and their continuing work in this world just as my Patron Saint works through me.
- My favorite album (or musical artist) is…I refer to General Grant when he said “music is controlled noise”. I do not listen to much but when I do, it is the older gospel songs.
- To relax, I…sit under the shade of the trees with Janet or watch old movies with Janet.
We have obtained a number of copies of Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials of Baylor University for our members. Anyone who makes a Torchbearer Gift ($1,000), purchases a new Life Membership ($1,000), or buys a Recent Graduate membership ($500) will receive a copy of the book as a Thank You. You can go here to make your gift or purchase your membership. On Memorial Day, we will publish a few examples of the stories that Jasek tells in the book.