Rest in peace

Frank Arabia was a longtime member of the Thunder Bay indoor outdoor men's soccer leagues.

In my younger years I watched soccer. My female friends were checking out the soccer players and I was just amazed at the skill of the athletes.

There are not a lot of goals scored in a soccer game. Do you know what that means? When a goal is scored it is spectacular. All that running, it makes you tired just watching.

The reason I bring this up this week is because the Thunder Bay soccer community lost a hometown favourite with the passing of Frankie Arabia last month.

Frankie was a very talented soccer player. I want his family to know he was also kind and very funny. I knew him through my high school days and college days.

We had a big group of friends who spent some late nights at the local coffee shops or the Blue Parrot restaurant. I was the fat girl so, not I wasn’t going to be picking up any guys. Frankie always took the time to chat and make me laugh. He was so kind. I will never forget the story of buying the boat with his friend Joe Spina (the Port Arthur Joe Spina) more like a brother to him. They told me they did not secure the boat properly to the truck hitch and it flew off the truck while driving down the road.

To this day I see his smile, his eyes and his big hand gestures. He was, back then. a skinny little guy full of energy. He was telling the story in front of Spina and of course blaming him for the episode. It is one of those you had to be there stories but I smile to this day every time I see a boat hitched to a truck. We laughed so hard we cried. I do not know how or when our group became separated.

Maybe, it was after all the cute guys got married. They were the good old days. You knew the soccer players on the field and their families.

Tony Pimentel was heartbroken to hear of the passing of Frankie.

“I played with him and he was in my opinion the best ever to play soccer in this city,” he says.

My favourite days were the Labour Day long weekend tournaments. The soccer community is very tight knit and I know many will be feeling this loss. I did not know Frankie had an epic battle with cancer for many years. I am glad he is no longer suffering. I am writing this column so his family knows there are many that share in their grief. I want his friend and business partner Joe Spina to know I am sorry for his loss.

If you feel inclined support Arby’s Restaurant on Red River Road and pay your condolences at the drive through window, I think they boys would appreciate it. The pandemic makes it hard to express condolences.

I am going to drop off a sympathy card at the drive-through window.I do not want his life to be about sickness. I want his life to be about his gift of friendship, his unbelievable soccer skills, and his love of people.

John Marrello, the general manager of the Thunder Bay Chill, says his friend will be missed

“He had the skill, speed and the vision, but the most important part was he had a great personality. A hard worker with an entrepreneurial spirit. He has a lot of friends. He was just a fun guy to be around,” says John.

I, too, know he was a hard worker. We were not very old and he had a job at the post office!

Frank Arabia was a good friend to many people. May his friends and family know he made a difference in the lives of many people and his memory will live on in our hearts. May he rest in peace.

Johan Vass is a Thunder Bay-based writer. Reach her at jvass@tbaytel.net.

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