Modesto is Frank Damrell’s hometown. He is the fourth generation of the Damrell family to call Stanislaus County home. Frank attended Enslen and Rose Avenue Elementary, and La Loma Junior High, before graduating from Thomas Downey High School. Four years later, Frank received a Bachelor of Science degree from Santa Clara University, and returned to Modesto to work assisting a congressman helping constituents resolve their issues with the Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration.
Frank and his wife of 28-years, Gayle Parker Damrell, an ardent marathoner, have raised their three children, the fifth generation of Damrell’s to call Stanislaus County home, in the tree lined neighborhood near Modesto Junior College. Their children attended Enslen Elementary School, as Frank did more than 45 years earlier. They played in the same city parks, Graceda and Enslen, and rode bikes on the same neighborhood streets. Many of the family names have remained the same, even if Ulrich’s Shopping Center is now called Roseburg Square and the small zoo in the parking lot is long gone.
Above: The Damrell family and TeamHydro swim in the Alcatraz Sharkfest.
In a routine familiar to many young families of Modesto, Frank has been a Little League and MYSA soccer coach. He spent countless hours on the pool deck at his children’s practices and meets throughout Northern California, and sat in the stands at high school sporting events cheering for his nieces and nephews. The entire family swims from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco each summer for TeamHydro, raising funds for hydrocephalus research to support their daughter and sister.
Continuing a long tradition of public service, Frank works for the state senate identifying concerns of importance to farmers, businesses, educators and families in the valley. As a local consultant, he works closely with members of both political parties. He has been continually involved helping small businesses targeted by predatory litigators, advocating for transportation solutions that will benefit the local economy, assisting nursing school graduates secure their registered nursing licenses, and engaging in dialogue that will help to address the homeless crisis that is pervasive in our community.
Throughout the years, Frank has served on various non-profit boards and committees, such as the United Way’s Children and Youth Impact Council and Doctor’s Medical Center Foundation’s Kid Works. Frank is currently on the Board of Directors for TeamHydro and its Operations Committee and the Advisory Council of the Boys and Girls Club of Stanislaus county.
Above: Frank Damrell and Chris Murphy at the Historic Graffiti Cruise Route Presentation.
As Gayle has spent countless hours commuting over the Altamont to work for a firm in Pleasanton, Frank is keenly aware of the need to bring business and higher wage jobs to Modesto. The economic vibrancy of Stanislaus County is a focus of his campaign for Supervisor.
The Damrell Family has always believed that Stanislaus County is a place of opportunity. After fleeing the frightening devastation of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and living a number of years in La Grange, Frank’s great grandmother insisted on moving to Modesto where her two sons could attend Modesto High School. They lived in a modest home on Sixth Street and operated a small corner market across from what is now the Muni Golf Course.
Frank’s grandfather, Frank, Sr., with his wife, Honora Mae, raised their family on Kimble Street as he opened his law office downtown. Frank’s aunt, Marie, and his father, Frank, Jr., attended Lincoln Elementary School, then Roosevelt Junior High and Modesto High School, class of 1953 and 1955, respectively.
Modesto was a smaller farming community in those days, but rock and roll was emerging and cruising was in its infancy as times returned to normal after World War II. Frank’s grandfather chose a life of public service as a Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge, appointed by Republican Governor Goodwin Knight in 1951.
Frank’s mother, Ludy Dykzeul, having survived Nazi invasion and occupation, immigrated from Sparenwoude, Holland, as child in 1948. Frank’s Dutch aunts and uncles would locate their farms and dairies near Oakdale and in the Westside of Stanislaus County. Frank enjoys the friendship and laughter and love of 53 first cousins!
Frank, Jr. and Ludy married 56 years ago and raised young Frank and his three siblings, Lia, Anne and Jim, in Modesto. Frank, Jr., successfully built his law firm in downtown Modesto to statewide prominence with 50 employees, while leading numerous civic and community endeavors. In 1997 he was appointed by the President of the United States to be a Federal District Judge in Sacramento. Shortly after 9/11, Judge Damrell founded Operation Protect and Defend to discuss the values of U.S. Constitution with high school students in communities throughout the state.
Frank’s mother founded the non-profit Parent Resource Center 25 years ago to help young families and end the cycle of child abuse. This remarkable organization continues to serve parents and children of the county to this day.
Time after time, Frank’s ancestors have come to the fertile farmlands and peaceful communities of Stanislaus County to work hard and raise their families. Modesto has been the home of the Damrells for over a century. Frank hopes to continue the Damrell tradition of public service as Stanislaus County Supervisor for District 4, representing Modesto.
And as a Modestan, Frank believes that together we can solve our problems and become a community of safe and secure families, successful businesses and good jobs.