Frank Stukus may have been the youngest of the legendary trio, but he certainly was not the most timid. Joining the Argonauts at age 19 for their Grey Cup win in 1938, Stukus volunteered to play the toughest position on the team.
"I had tried out as an end, but halfway through the season, Teddy Morris, who was our fullback and one of the most fantastic football players you ever saw, broke his arm, and (coach Lew) Haymen was looking for someone to take over," recalled Frank. "He let me play fullback, which I then played for the last four years of my career. When you're playing fullback, you just do what you're told and get killed."
When Frank played, he always played hurt. A serious knee injury suffered at Central Tech High School in the mid-30's hampered him throughout his career, including forcing him to miss the entire 1940 season and preventing him from serving overseas. It still bothers him to this day, but it didn't quell any of his fighting and entrepreneurial spirit during his lifetime.
In 1945, after playing in the ORFU during the war with Balmy Beach and the Toronto Indians, Frank actually bought the Indians, and offered shares in the club to players returning from the war as payment. The likes of his brothers Annis and Bill, Jake Gaudaur and Don Durno were recruited, as was coach Lew Haymen, even though the two did not get along.
"I opened up the wallets of the owners because the Argos had to pay money to keep guys like Joe Krol and Royal Copeland," said Frank, who then went to the Toronto Star sports editor and showed him the team made an $18,000 profit, which got the editor wondering how much the other clubs made.
At around the same time, Stukus further showed his business smarts and and promotional savvy by opening the Byrnell Manor Boys Camp in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, a lovely resort and getaway attraction just north of Peterborough that brought in youths of all athletic persuasions, as well as many politicians, business people and even football teams. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats held their training camp there in 1959, and the Pittsburgh Steelers almost came up in 1960, but reneged at the last moment and cost Frank $39,000, even though he had set up an exhibition game between them and the Argos.
In 1961, hurt by dealing with the football teams, Stukus instead decided to turn to hockey by starting the first-ever boys summer hockey camp in the world, bringing with him the likes of Boston Bruins head coach Milt Schmidt and New York Rangers coach Alfie Pike as instructors, as well as Bobby Hull for one year.
Frank owned Byrnell Manor until 1975, and then he went to work for the City of Etobicoke's Parks and Recreation Department for 13 years. He was also involved in a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the Progressive Conservative Party from the 1950's to the mid-80's, when the shenanigans of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney turned him off for good.
Nowadays, Frank lives with his second wife Audrey (his first wife Anna died in 1965) in Mississauga. He still has a daughter Maureen, but son Frank Jr. died of a heart attack two years ago.
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