(Part 2 in a two-part series on the life of Frank Arnsdorff)
Mr. Frank was asked by many Effingham County citizens to run for county commissioner. He had always wanted to improve the poor roads that were nearly impassable at times in the county. In 1948 he was elected and he served eight years beginning in January 1949. He stated, “One thing I did was build roads and try to get good roads to all of the churches.” The first one he remembered getting paved was Stillwell-Clyo and later got Old Dixie Highway finished in stages.
In 1958, Mr. Frank was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving seven years from 1959-1966. Reapportionment shortened his last elected term, and in 1966 he lost the election. He served Effingham, Bulloch, Jenkins and Screven counties. During his years in the legislature, the bridge was built over the Savannah River on Highway 119 connecting the county to South Carolina.
From 1968-1972, Mr. Frank served on the Effingham Hospital Authority and had the distinction of being chairman of the first authority. In 1972, he served a few months as temporary hospital administrator. During that time, he was noted for showing up at odd times of the day, even at night, to tend to business and see what was going on at the hospital and nursing home.
Always known for being witty and telling “tales” which were true stories about the old days, family or friends, Mr. Frank loved talking and entertaining his visitors or those around him. His niece, Glynda Grizzard, related the following humorous incident:
“In October of 1975, my niece Angie Hodges had surgery for a brain tumor in Augusta, Georgia. Uncle Frank and Aunt Gladys took Mom and Dad to Augusta several days later to see Angie. She had been moved to a different room. When they found out which room she was in, they had to take an elevator to her room. Mom and Dad and Uncle Frank and Aunt Gladys got on the elevator and a nurse got on with them. Uncle Frank was famous for chewing a cigar. It was rarely lit but was always in his mouth. The nurse told him that he was not to be smoking in the elevator. With Uncle Frank’s usual sarcasm, he told the nurse he was not smoking. She told him that she could see the cigar. He told her yes and that he had shoes on but that he was not walking. The nurse was speechless.”
A good Christian man in his life and business, Mr. Frank was a member of Turkey Branch Methodist Church for many years and served several terms as treasurer. His wife was a lifelong member of nearby Bethel Lutheran Church and in his later years he moved his membership over to Bethel with her. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Turkey Branch.
One of his accomplishments for which he was very proud was being a loyal member of the Clyo Masonic Lodge 280 F&AM for more than 72 years. He was a master mason and was honored for those years served on many occasions.
Mr. Frank related in a taped oral history, recorded in 2004 by Historic Effingham Society, that he continued to farm, garden and fish in his senior years. Most of the information and quotations in this article come from the oral history. Had he survived two more days when he died on Dec. 10, he and his wife would have celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary, but sadly instead his funeral was held on the day of the anniversary.
Frank Arnsdorff is a citizen who will be sorely missed by his family and the community. He was a man who had spent his life serving God, his family, community and state. Well respected as a “self made man,” relative Libby A. Heidt said, he was consulted often by those in the area and his kin for his keen business knowledge and for financial advice and assistance.
This hardworking, honest man of great integrity who was a role model left quite a legacy for his wife and children. Although he is no longer with us, Frank Arnsdorff left a mark on Effingham County that is permanent.
I extend many thanks to all who helped with this article.
This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have comments, photos or information to share please contact her at 754-6681 or email: email@example.com