My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties



Frank Dusek was born in 1939 in the Township of Emery to Frank and Anne.  His siblings are Vivian and Ruth.

He attended East Highland School, which is now a bed & breakfast and then finished his schooling at Phillips High School.  His favorite teacher was Mrs. Fox.  Frank said, "I could do math real easy with her."  Something that didn't come so easy to him, though, was playing the accordion, which his dad hoped he would master under the instruction of Marianne Foytek.  "Dad wanted to make a musician out of me, but, at that age, I had other things in mind like cars, sports, and girls.  It made it difficult to practice the accordion," Frank admitted.

Like a lot of young boys, Frank dreamed of being in professional sports; he wanted to be a baseball player.  "On the farm, when I had a chance, if dad was napping or doing something, I'd throw that ball against the barn wall."  He played baseball in school, and he also wanted to play basketball.  "I think I screwed it up.  I was told not to play basketball, but who's gonna tell me what to do?  So, I went to play, and I got kicked in the back of the leg.  The coach came up to me and said, 'Frank, that did it.'  He knew I wouldn't be very good [at baseball] with that type of injury, which did bother me later in life when I played for the Legion and city teams."

Upon graduation from Phillips High School in 1957, Frank didn't head to baseball training camp; instead, he ventured to Portage, Wisconsin where he worked in a canning factory for the summer.  After spending some time back home, he joined the Army in 1958, and he remained there for over 2 1/2 years.  He was stationed in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, but he chuckled when he said, "That area didn't satisfy me."

He moved back to Phillips, and he was going to work on the farm, but "I saw all the rocks to pick, and I said 'no,'" he said with a chuckle.  So, he went to work at the Standard Oil station.  Fred Knez owned the station, and Frank asked him if he would like to sell it.  Fred said he would need to talk with his wife, Mabel, and before Frank knew it, as he says, "I bought myself a job."

While running the Standard station, Lloyd Hilgendorf, a man from Tomahawk, approached him about getting into the LP gas business.  Frank, a budding entrepreneur, decided to add that line of business.  He soon found out, however, that Standard Oil was not going to allow him to also provide LP at the station.  He had to choose which path he wanted his business to take, so, in 1962, he chose the LP gas business.

To get the venture going, Frank went to Texas to buy a bulk truck.  He drove it back home, went straight to the Price County Fair, and his first LP customers signed up to his services.

In 1967, he purchased the land across from the current grocery store, built his store, and that remained the home of Dusek's LP Gas until the time of his retirement in 2003 when he sold the business after 41 years as a businessman.

While building his business, Frank got married to his first wife, who was from Waukegan, Illinois.  She did not acclimate well to the area, and fourteen years later they divorced.

After some time living the single life, in the mid-1970s, someone caught his eye while he was watching a softball game south of town.  He asked someone, "Who is the lady on first base?"  He found out her name was Carol, and she was playing softball for the local bowling alley.  Naturally, Frank decided to frequent the bowling alley so he could make her acquaintance.  Once doing so, he realized he wanted to get to know her better.  After a couple years of dating, Carol's daughter, Tracy, who was ten years old at the time, advised that Frank might want to marry Carol, which Frank says was likely the best piece of advice he has ever received, even though he joked he has probably received a lot of advice in his life.  In 1977, they took Tracy's advice to get married, and Frank whole-heartedly feels it was the best decision of his life.

Not only is Carol his best friend, he said that she helped straighten out his life and make him a better person.  He shared that he started drinking coffee when he was 25 years old with the other salesmen.  However, as time progressed, the salesmen started going to the supper club for "drinks."  When he met Carol, he was making a few choices with drinking that were not suiting his health, and by her suggestion and guidance, he did stop drinking, much to his doctor's delight.

"Being I went through this deal with drinking a little more alcohol than I maybe should have, I'm fortunate that I stopped before it got out of control, but today the kids are out there and you just wonder.  The kids don't know what they are doing with trying the drugs and everything that is out there, and it makes it hard for these kids.  If only they would realize, be taught, and know not to do it," Frank shared his advice to today's youth, knowing they could find more good things in a clean lifestyle.

Throughout their married life, Frank and Carol have focused on the good things in life.  One good thing they love to do is travel in their motor home.  They have visited many places, but Alaska is a highlight for Frank.  They went on a cruise and a bus tour.  "The bus tour was really nice.  They had everything arranged for us.  There were other couples with us.  We got to see sites we normally wouldn't see.  They could take the bus right through the reserves, and they would explain everything to us."  Frank has traveled much of America, but he said they didn't get out west to as many places as he would have liked.

If Frank could have one wish for America, he'd wish that some people would not be so corrupt.  "This stuff we have going on now, it's just too bad.  I don't know where it all comes from, but the parents really should be responsible for what their kids do."  He explained that most parents are doing a good job but some need to discipline their children to help them grow to be good and proper citizens and appreciate this great country we have.  "I was disciplined when I was young.  I guess that's what it takes.  But I don't blame the parents for all of it.  When the kids get in trouble, you've got to tell them what is wrong and not just fight for them and say, 'Well, it's okay.'"  He said that some kids immediately go to their parents now to have them come to their aid, but when he was a kid, he didn't want his dad to know when he did something wrong.  "But some things I couldn't hide," Frank joked, with some glee in his eyes remembering his mischievous days as a young man.  It all started when his dad bought him a Sears & Roebuck Schwinn bike.  "I didn't like to pedal it," Frank said, so he had to soup it up by adding a motor to it.  Then, one time, he took his dad's car and accidentally rolled it.  "I couldn't hide that one," Frank joked.  With a few more fender benders under his belt, it's no surprise that Frank's dad got him his own car, and later in life Frank became interested in stock cars and racing snowmobiles.

Looking back on his long life, Frank said, "It's just a blessing that I am here.  I sure accomplished a lot of things.  I joined the Lion's Club in 1964, and I am still an active member.  I, and other Lions Club members, did a lot of work on what is now known as Elk Lake Park, working many hours to clear and prepare the land.  I belong to the American Legion.  I was involved with the early part of the campground clean-up in Phillips and did work with the Park Falls Industrial Development.  I did a lot of snowmobile trail work, got permission from the landowners."

While Frank's love of snowmobiling is evident, not everyone knows about all the time and attention he has put into the Price County snowmobile trails and snowmobiling in general.

Those who know him as the "Father of Price County’s Snowmobile Trails Program” know he has done a lot.  In 1969, Frank was a charter member of the Phillips Chaparrals, which was the first snowmobile club in Price County.  In 1972, he was the founder and first president of the Price County Trails Association, which is now made up of ten clubs, and Frank is a member of each club.  In 1984, the governor took notice, and Frank was appointed to the Wisconsin Governor’s Snowmobile Recreation Council.

In the early years, Frank worked tirelessly to develop Price County's network of trails, establishing relationships with private landowners who allowed the trails to be placed on their properties.

All the trails need to be maintained, and Frank was the most instrumental in securing state funding for trail maintenance.  However, he didn't just seek funding, he also did the work.  He started grooming snowmobile trails with bed springs being towed behind snowmobiles until more heavy-duty grooming equipment became available.  He personally signed for a loan to buy the first Tucker Sno-Cat for Price County.  He even provided valuable input for the design of how a drag should most effectively process the snow.  This insight helped in the process of creating the commercial groomers that are now used.  In 2022, Frank was awarded the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) Groomer of the Year.

To this day, Frank continues to be actively involved with the AWSC and all the local clubs.

Frank enjoys riding with family and friends, and he also enjoys riding for a cause.  Many times he has helped to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

According to the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, "Frank has earned the respect of everyone he interacts with.  He is regarded as the ambassador for snowmobiling in Price County and the state of Wisconsin.  Frank is very adamant about ensuring everyone stays safe when grooming and snowmobiling.  It is for his unwavering commitment to the sport of snowmobiling that places Frank Dusek in the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Class of 2023."  The induction ceremony will take place in Eagle River on September 15 and 16, 2023.

Frank appreciates being recognized for his contributions, but he most appreciates what he has in life.  If Frank won the lottery, he said, "My personal thought is that I don't want it."  He said he'd either give it to the kids or charity.  He knows people can have bad results when they win, so he wouldn't tell anyone he got it.  Frank also doesn't care to meet any famous people.  The people he is most interested in spending his time with and proud of are his wife, Carol; his two step-children (who he loves as his own children), Jeff Williams and Tracy (Williams) Hand; his five grandchildren; and his nine great-grandchildren with one on the way which will make ten.

"It turned out for the good and the best in my life," Frank reminisced.  He said the motto he currently lives by is, "I'm getting older and slower but not old."  With all the accomplishments in his life and having that positive mindset, Frank will likely continue to make positive contributions to his community and his loved ones both on and off the trails.

You can share this article on Facebook via this link.

Update, 2-22-2024:  You can view a video that was created by Discover Wisconsin three months after our article was published.  Click this link.

[Image: lynnebohn.jpg]
Written By:  Lynne Bohn,
(This post was last modified: 02-22-2024, 02:17 PM by My Northern Wisconsin.)