Long-time Grand Island resident Franklin Mesmer, known as "Bob" to his friends, passed away on Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was a successful business owner, a decorated World War II veteran, and a loving father.
Mesmer and his brothers started Mesmer and Sons Dairy in the early 1940s, but shortly afterward he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and became a waist gunner on a B-17 bomber aircraft. Mesmer was one of the lucky few who lived to complete 35 successful B-17 missions in Europe. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for staying with his crippled bomber until it crashed in "semi-friendly" Russian-occupied territory.
During his time in the Air Corps, Mesmer rose to the rank of staff sergeant. After returning from the war, he and his brothers worked long and difficult hours to build Mesmer and Sons Dairy and Mesmer Dairy Stores.
Mesmer was president of Mesmer Dairy Stores until retiring in 1989. He also served a term as president of the Riverside Lions Club, where he was a long-time member.
He enjoyed camping with his family, traveling, golf, talking with friends and relatives, wood working and, if prodded, talking about his terror-filled time in the air over Nazi-occupied Europe.
Upon retiring, Mesmer moved to Franklinville, where he lived for several years. After that, he relocated to Myrtle Beach, where he lived his remaining years in a nearly "snow-free" environment.
For the past 20 years, Bob lived in Myrtle Beach with his wife of 21 years, Jean. He was predeceased by Dorothy E. (Phillips) Mesmer, to whom he was married for 39 years. They had four children: Robert (Joy), William (Eileen), Terry (Cindy) Mesmer and Debbie (Ken) Huttmaier. He also has six stepchildren: Leonard (Brenda), Debbie (Jim), Charlene, Dean, Karen and Don. He is survived by many nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Jan. 29 at St. Martin-In-The-Fields Episcopal Church. A memorial/reunion will be held in Bob's honor this summer at a time to be announced.