Punderson Manor Celebrates Employee’s 90th Birthday

As the Human Resources Manager for Punderson Manor Lodge, one of my duties consists of hiring new employees. On November 6, 2006, I was processing paperwork for an employee who the Food and Beverage Manager hired as a bartender. When it came to entering his birthday into the computer, I typed in 02/28/1922. At that moment I looked at my computer screen, and then I looked at the paperwork. Somewhat puzzled, I looked at the computer and looked at the paperwork again. It took me a few minutes to figure out that I just hired an 85 year old bartender!

Rachel Hunziker & Frank La Puma
Rachel Hunziker & Frank La Puma

Francesco Joseph La Puma, aka “Frank the Tank”, was born on February 28, 1922 in Cleveland. Frank grew up in an Italian neighborhood near Kinsman and East 116th Street where his family owned a bakery.

In 1942, at age 20, Frank served as a Corporal in the Marine Corp and spent some of his time overseas in Guam. After being honorably discharged four years later from the military, Frank was eager to begin his life. On July 26, 1946 Frank married Carol Loparo to whom he was married until her passing 58 years later. They had two children together, Thomas and Annamarie.

Frank the Tank's 90th Birthday Cake
Frank the Tank's 90th Birthday Cake

Frank was self-employed as a carpenter for 41 years until he retired at age 65. Still feeling very active at this young age, he obtained a job at Fowlers Mills Golf Course. Frank worked as a ranger and, before he knew it, he was working as one of the golf course supervisors. Frank retired from the golf course business 21 years later.

When I hired Frank in 2006, I learned it wasn’t the first time he worked for Punderson. Veteran employees told me he worked for us for a short time in 1996. I found it striking that they all seemed to say the same thing about him; he was wonderful at providing superior levels of guest service.

Those words resonate with me time and time again as I talk to guests who come back to Punderson just to see Frank at the bar. “Frank the Tank”, as he is known to all of us, has taught me that providing excellent guest service is easy if you just treat people with kindness and respect.

Frank La Puma & Colleen Brady
Frank La Puma with girlfriend Colleen Brady

In 2008, Frank developed a relationship with Colleen Brady (a Dining Room Server at Punderson) and the two of them love to travel together and go to casinos. They also enjoy walking, hiking, biking and swimming. Frank says he continues to work out every day at the YMCA and that’s how he seems to stay in shape. Frank also loves to play cards and golfs every Tuesday in the summer with his buddy Aaron Bulzan.

At one point during the party someone asked Frank, “How do you stay so young?” Frank relied, “I don’t worry about anything. I just don’t let things bother me.”

I don’t feel 90. I feel like I am 23!

I think most employees were in awe of the fact that they work with someone who is 90 years old, and Frank explained that he doesn’t work for the money. He made it clear that what continues to drive him are the people he works with and the guests that he gets to serve.

At the end of the party, I asked Frank if he feels like he’s 90? “No way!” he replied. “I feel as old as Aaron sitting next to me! I feel like I am the one who is 23 years old, not Aaron!”

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News