Colonel Frank DiCillo Jr, USMC (Ret) has passed away. He left this world at the tender age of 96 with his wits still about him and his eyes still filled with curiosity and wonder.
Col. DiCillo died from complications due to pneumonia on September 2, 2021, in the presence of friends and family.
Frank and his wife Barbara moved to North Carolina in 1978. They eventually settled in Clyde and enjoyed many years there until Barbara’s death in 2015. Frank remained in their home, in the mountains that he loved, until his passing.
Frank DiCillo was born in 1924 in Uxbridge, Mass. He graduated from high school and, against his father’s wishes, enrolled at Boston University. That summer, he met Barbara while working as a lifeguard at a local lake. He and Barbara were married in 1951. They had three children; Stephen, Tom and Laura Lee.
Col. DiCillo’s devotion to the United States Marine Corps was evident to everyone who knew him. He enlisted in 1943 and three years later was accepted into the Officer’s Candidate School in Quantico, VA. He received his commission there and went on to serve 33 years in the Marine Corps, reaching the rank of full Colonel before his retirement in 1978.
Frank’s specialization while in the military was Communications. His service took him on solo tours (without family) to China, Japan and Vietnam where he was stationed in Da Nang for 13 months during the height of the Vietnam War. In addition, Frank moved with his family to Marine bases around the country every two years, including an overseas tour to Bangkok, Thailand in 1964.
Concurrent with his time in the Marine Corps, Col. DiCillo earned his AA from Boston University, his BA from The University of Michigan and his MA from The American University. He also received Honors Certificates of Graduation from The Amphibious Warfare School and the prestigious Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Col. DiCillo stayed busy with many interests, including earning his Pilot’s License and becoming a Certified Flight Instructor. One of his greatest joys was flying over the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Frank earned his Real Estate License and Certified Financial Planner designation. He managed the Canton office of H&R Block and taught tax classes there for several years. In the late 80’s he and his friend and business partner, Deborah Summey, owned and operated an accounting and tax preparation firm in Canton. Frank served as President of the Haywood County Literacy Council and was President and Secretary of the Hazelwood Boosters Club.
Frank seriously enjoyed playing the piano. He was still taking weekly lessons under the professional guidance of Susan Huckaby up until late 2020. He was also an avid golfer and swimmer for many years and trained regularly at the Haywood Fitness Center through April of 2021.
Frank and Barbara loved the majestic beauty of Western NC. They made many lasting friends here. Those friends were of great joy and assistance throughout the years, especially to Frank in the years after Barbara passed. He was still going strong at 86. His stated goal was to make it to 100. He was still driving at 96 and did not surrender that activity easily.
Col. DiCillo’s BA degree from the University of Michigan was in English Literature which spurred his love for poetry and creative writing. He wrote poetry of his own for over 65 years. In 2020, accompanied by illustrations by his brother William, his work was collected and published online at www.frankdicillo.com. Visitors to the site can enjoy the rare privilege of hearing him recite several of his poems.
Col. DiCillo is survived by his sons, Stephen and Tom, and by his brother, William. The family extends its deepest gratitude to all who have offered their generous love and support during this difficult time. A Memorial is being planned for the Fall.
“Where is the child at the window pane?
Amazed at the snow, listening to the rain?
All aglow, all aglow?
Where is the mystery of the wide wide sky?
Is there history?
I was young once, wasn’t I?”
From “I Have No Dolls” by Frank DiCillo
The care of Col. DiCillo has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.
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