Robert M. (Pops) Frankenfeld

Robert M. Frankenfeld, also known as Pops, age 81, died Saturday, September 2, 2023 at Bridge Haven Memory Care in Lawrence, KS.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Murray Lee and Margie De Ree Frankenfeld; his sister Barbara; and the love of his life, Rose Marie Frankenfeld.

He is survived by his two daughters, Brenda Frankenfeld (Mike McKinney) and Robin Kofford (Todd Kofford), both of Lawrence, KS; his four grandchildren~ Dylan, Cypress, Estrella and Oliver; his sister, Shirley Webb; his brother Edward Frankenfeld (Harriet); his girlfriend, Janice Brandenburgh, and a multitude of close, longtime friends.

Robert was born June 7, 1942 in Taft, CA, the first born of four children of Murray and Margie. As the son of an air force officer, he grew up moving from base to base in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Tripoli, and Kansas. He graduated from Highland Park High School in Topeka, KS, afterwards earning an associate’s degree in welding. In 1963, he began his lifelong career as a welder for Santa Fe Railroad in Topeka, KS (now known as Burlington Northern Santa Fe) and worked there until his retirement in 2002. He applied his welding skills to many facets of his life, including the art of stained glass, fashioning gardening tools,
motorcycle repair, forging knives, and leather work. He embraced his Native American Heritage (Nez Perce) in the way he lived his life.

He has been described by one of his dearest friends as being persistent and diligent in everything he did. He was also thorough and enduring. Those characteristics are evident in all things he did from cradle to cremation, and are a part of his legacy passed down through his daughters and to his grandkids.

Robert had a passion for history ~ educating himself through reading books, watching documentaries, going to museums, traveling to National Parks, National Forests and stopping at every single roadside historical marker. He took it all in.

Robert loved being among nature. He was outside all the time, no matter the weather, no matter the season. He gardened, hunted, fished, watched the sunrises, sunsets & the night sky. He watched the birds and wildlife around him, his binoculars always within reach on his dining room table. He was a keen, silent observer.

Robert married Rose Marie Smiley, in 1981. They built a home together in rural Shawnee County, where they enjoyed country living, growing a tremendous garden every year, canning and preserving enough to feed his daughters and his grandkids, plus an army. Every last tomato, green bean, okra, and beet went into jars. Picking cherries from his cherry trees was an annual solstice event for his daughters and grandkids. And yes, every last loving cherry was picked from those trees, made into pies, and preserved.

Robert was an excellent and generous cook, often creating delicious meals using the bounties from his gardening, hunting, and fishing. He loved good food and received great joy in sharing meals with family and friends.

He bought his first Harley in 1975. He explored the world on his bike, often with Rose right behind him. They traveled coast to coast on the bike, swimming and fishing in rivers, streams, and oceans. He took many trips to Sturgis, ND with his extended Harley Family & Friends. He spent many hours in his garage, turning up the music LOUD, maintaining his motorcycles, and working on his welding creations.

Robert will be remembered as a loyal friend, always ready to lend a hand to his many close friends and family. He is loved so much by his ex wife’s brothers and extended family, that they have remained close friends for over 60 years~ hunting, fishing, riding their Harleys, and camping together. That’s true friendship right there.

Robert will be remembered as Pops, a proud dad and grandpa. He led by example, teaching us his skills by including us in his many passions. He attended all the extra curricular activities of his daughters and his grandkids~ band concerts, choir concerts, plays, dance performances, soccer games, football games~ he was there, observing, silent and proud. He taught us the love of music, reading and enjoying the simple pleasures of life while being outdoors. He taught us the skills of navigation not only through reading maps but by keeping track of our internal compass and knowing which way the river flows.

He is now riding his Harley on the back roads of the great beyond with Rose. Ride in Peace Pops.

A celebration of Life will take place 1-3 p.m. on Monday, October 9, 2023 at the Garden House by the Ted Ensley Gardens, at Lake Shawnee, 3720 SE Yacht Ct. Topeka, KS, 66609.

In lieu of flowers and donations, in honor of Pops, we suggest driving down a back road and finding a place to sit to enjoy the world.