For most of his life, Evergreen resident Frank Albert has been a man on the move.
“I was born in Rabat, Morrocco,” says Frank, “I was the first member of my family to be born outside of Czechoslovakia.”
Frank’s father was a high-ranking diplomat in Czechoslovakia’s then-communist government, a position entailing considerable privilege and constant re-posting. After a few years of relative stability living in Prague with his paternal grandparents, Frank rejoined his family in Nairobi, Kenya, where in 1970 his father received orders to return immediately to Prague. The seemingly routine summons struck Frank’s father as decidedly ominous. “Dad had been recruited by the British Secret Service,” explains Frank. “He thought he’d been made.”
The Alberts fled to London, igniting a media storm. It was the height of the Cold War and the defection of an important Communist official made for international news.
“I remember seeing myself on TV that night.”
Frank blended easily into the green English countryside. He attended Millbrook House, an all-boys boarding school near Oxford, before moving on to Radley College, an all-boys institution just a couple of miles up the A34. He played Rugby, he rowed crew, and he aspired to acceptance at the prestigious London School of Economics.
“A couple of guys I really admired went to the London School of Economics,” Frank smiles. “Their names were Mick and Keith.” [In case anyone else isn't amongst the "cool" crowd, that's Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, founders of the Rolling Stones.]
But Frank’s stone was fated to roll in a different direction. In 1981 he made a visit to Colorado where one of his two older sisters was enrolled at the University of Denver. He liked the people, he liked the state, and he liked the fact that DU was co-educational.
“I wanted a school with girls and parties. I applied on the spot and was accepted.”
Much taken with one particular girl, Frank asked Jennifer Stock out to dinner and a party. Their first and last date was going well until Frank volunteered to make a beer run.
“I got pulled over going 100 mph down Colfax.”
Frank eventually talked his way back onto the street, but by that time Jennifer had written him off as a louse and gone home. With his budding romance dead on the vine, Frank threw himself into economics and philosophy, accomplishing three years of course-work in just two. He met a new girl and fell in love with her. She was from Evergreen, and when he saw the certainty of marriage in his near future, in 1984 he pitched his studies over the side, took an 80437 post office box, and spent the next year chasing the horizon from Hong Kong to Pakistan to Greece to Ireland and most points in between. And then, momentarily at rest, he married his sweetheart at the Hiwan Homestead Museum and settled down in Evergreen.
For the first few years the couple moved frequently, from Troublesome Gulch, to a rented home in Wah Keeney Park, and finally to 10 forested acres in the Pinewood area. Frank stayed put for more than a decade, working first as an importer and then as financial planner. But his stone began rolling again in 1999 when he found new purpose as a professional fundraiser, traveling America’s widest places helping its smallest and most remote communities find the wherewithal to establish local health care facilities. His beat ran from Kansas across the Dakotas to rural Minnesota. His admiration for the people he met along the way was boundless. His method was inspired.
“All I really did was hold up a mirror and show them how amazing they really were,” Frank says. “I probably helped raise more than 30 million dollars for rural health care.”
Long distances and longer absences are hard on any marriage, and Frank’s couldn’t survive the strain. Frank rolled on alone until 2011, when he happened to roll into a business networking get-together that he never meant to attend and ran into somebody who didn’t really want to be there.
“It was Jennifer, 29 years later, at a meeting neither of us should have been at.”
Frank and Jennifer are man and wife now, their union firmly rooted in the rocky soil above Main Street in Evergreen’s original neighborhood, North Bear Heights. They live happily together in a charming 71-year-old piece of local history built in the ancient Evergreen style, wood over stone, and together they play an active role in the life of their mountain community.
Frank and Jennifer are ardent supporters of Evergreen nonprofits from Center for the Arts Evergreen to Evergreen Animal Protection League to Evergreen Christian Outreach. Frank has been a proud and productive member of Blue Spruce Kiwanis for 29 years, and he’s a graduate Leadership Evergreen’s inaugural Class of 1996. And if Frank makes his living closer to home these days as a senior financial advisor with Blue Marble Advisors, he still manages to take his stone out for a roll now and then.
“I’d always dreamed of racing vintage cars,” he says. “Jennifer said ‘So why aren’t you doing it?’”
Having no good answer to that question, Frank started pricing his dream car, a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight. Trouble was, the company only made 12 of them and they can run something north of $150.000.
“I’m a Jag man on an MG budget.”
Happily, many MG’s make excellent vintage racers, and Frank’s super-sweet cherry-red 1967 MGB GT – his third race car in six years – is dynamite on the track. This year he’s president of Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing, Ltd., and as often as not he races for charity.
“People assume I’m an adrenaline junkie, but nothing could be further from the truth. The moments when I feel an adrenaline rush are not good moments. It means something’s not going right, and we emphasize safety above all else. What I love about racing is more about spirituality. When you’re in a race car, you’re really, really present in the moment. It’s wonderful.”
In fact, he suggests that anyone interested in having an extra-present moment motor out to the High Plains Raceway in Deer Trail on July 29 and 30 for the annual Race Against Kids’ Cancer.
“For a donation of $50 or more you get to go three laps at-speed in a vintage racer.”
As a man in motion, Frank Albert rolled across some of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating landscapes. He speaks four languages (including a solid smattering of Hidatsa) and has felt very much at home among good people from Bismarck to Beijing. For his money, though, there’s no better place on Earth to gather a little moss than a pioneer home in North Bear Heights.
“I love the pace of life here, and I love the acceptance that exists here. I’ve had choices. I chose Evergreen.”