Retired Theater Teacher Now Thriving as Performing Arts Volunteer

Laycock Frank

Frank Laycock

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 10, 2015 — Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Frank Laycock of West Bend, Wisconsin, spends his retirement serving people around him and showing them there is a great life still to live.

Frank is a retired teacher of 42 years. During his years at Whitefish Bay High School, he taught theater classes, speech communication and English. He was also given the honor of being the director of the theater department. He was responsible for putting together and making successful shows – one musical and two or three plays – every year.

He also served as technical director of the Whitefish Bay Auditorium, where he was responsible for scheduling and technical aspects of the high school and community theater productions and outside groups using the auditorium. This included setups for concerts, assemblies and touring shows.

“I really enjoyed relating with students and find great satisfaction in having influenced several to go on to promising professional careers,” he said.

At Southeast, Frank earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with majors in English and speech pathology. He also holds a Master of Education from Cardinal Stritch University-Glendale, Wisconsin.

Frank says he chose Southeast because it was a family tradition.

“My mother attended SEMO to get her teaching degree.  It was closest and affordable. My exposure to theater at Southeast led me to a change of major,” he says.

His favorite memories at Southeast go right along with his career.

“I enjoyed Black Mask productions, Benton-Clio Follies and doing lighting for programs in Academic Hall, even with its primitive lighting controls at the time. We would take the backdrops out to the parking lot and scrub the old paint off, and even hammer bent nails for reuse after striking the sets,” he said.

Even then, a little hard work didn’t scare away Frank. In his retirement, Frank can be found spending time with his wife, Kathrine, and doing some of the same things that made him so loved by so many during his career.

“My wife, Kathrine, and I enjoy theater, so much that for the last 12 years we have volunteered as ushers for the Milwaukee Center for the Performing Arts (Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee Ballet, Florentine Opera and First Stage Children’s Theater) and Skylight Theater in Milwaukee,” he says. “We like to ‘give back’ to the community. At the retirement community where we live, I deliver the village mail and take people on nature trail rides. We also play games with residents of the health care center. Kathrine is a hospice volunteer.  I enjoy photography, and we both like travel, especially to London (six times). We have participated in 20 Road Scholar programs all over the U.S and we love to read and belong to several book discussion groups.”

To Southeast students he offers this advice:

“Be flexible; be open to new experiences, to people with diverse ideas and beliefs. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to fail,” Frank says.