Former Williamsburg city manager dies at age 90

svaughan@vagazette.com

WILLIAMSBURG — Frank Force, who served as Williamsburg's city manager from 1967 to 1991, died Monday morning at 90.

Force was remembered as someone who made an impact on the community.

Former mayor Jeanne Zeidler, knew him throughout the years while he was city manager and from the Rotary Club.

"He was a strong personality," she said, and he didn't mind doing work. "He's was the kind of person you'd see out there shoveling the snow himself when we had a storm."

Gil Granger who served 12 years on City Council, including a stint as mayor when Force was manager, also had an anecdote about storms while recalling Force's life.

Granger wrote in an email to the Gazette that Force didn't like to treat roads with "expensive, fast acting chemical that tore up the cars and asphalt" after snow and ice storms. Instead, Force preferred a "WTA plan (Wait Til April)" treatment.

"You could always count on his budget to be conservative. Income would exceed projections and expenses would be less than projections. Ideas of councilpersons could be met, if reasonable," Granger wrote. "He will be missed by his beloved Marge as well as all who served with and under him. His imprint and leadership have been left all over the city, as well as the community at large."

Force was one of only two city managers in Williamsburg over nearly the last half century. He was succeeded by Jack Tuttle, who retired this year after also serving 24 years.

Former City Councilman Bobby Braxton, who said he knew Force mostly through the Rotary, contrasted the two long-time managers.

"He was a very different manager from Jack," said Braxton, of Force. "But that's what they needed then. He took great pride in his city and did good job of it."

Zeidler said Force approached the job as an engineer.

"As an engineer, he paid a lot of attention to what the city looked like and to safety," she said.

Force was a native of Ohio and served as city manager in Radford before coming to Williamsburg.

He was a the a member of Rotary International for 52 years. He was an honorary member of the Kiwanis Club, a member of the Middle Plantation Club, and a member of the United Methodist Church.

"Oh, he was a very devoted Rotarian," Braxton said.

That's something Granger recalled as well.

"City Council met twice a month — 2nd and 4th Thursdays at 2 p.m. — and always finished up in time for Rotary (6 p.m.). One newly elected councilman who had run advocating the 4th Thursday meeting be moved to an evening meeting so working people could attend acquiesced to an amendment by a Rotarian adding 'if necessary'" Granger recalled. "From that date to present, business has been done in one meeting a month. No second meeting has been necessary and no Rotarian has missed a meeting because of City Council."

Force is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie, a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Bucktrout Funeral Home, 4124 Ironbound Road, on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. Memorial donations in Force's name may be made to the Salvation Army, 151 Kristiansand Dr., Suite 109, Williamsburg, Va. 23188-1013.

Vaughan can be reached at 345-2343.

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