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Frank Sweetman
January 1929 - November 2011
Sweetman Frank


Frank Sweetman, a major contributor to the livestock and veterinary supply industry in California, died peacefully in his home at the age of 82. Frank was born on January 21, 1929, in Healdsburg, California, and was raised in San Carlos and San Bruno. His idyllic summers were spent at Lion's Head Ranch in Cazadero, California, with his large extended family. He resided in Modesto and Turlock for many years, and more recently in Aptos. Frank attended Sequoia High School, where he was a standout in basketball, baseball and boxing; at University of California, Davis, he focused on veterinary medicine, and here he met his wife, Gunvor Elisabeth Sontum. Frank worked for veterinarians during summers throughout high school and college. After serving his country during the Korean Conflict, Frank worked as a salesman for the animal health division of Van Waters and Rogers for seven years. In 1960, he founded Veterinary Service, Inc., in Modesto - an animal health Products Company, a business which was has been commended by the State of California for its contribution to the industry. He ran field trials for several vaccines for turkeys and livestock during his work years, always looking for ways to maximize animal well being. He built his company on service, trust, honesty and integrity. Frank was a member of the Modesto Rotary Club as well as the California Farm Bureau and California Poultry Association. Being an avid basketball player and undefeated boxer, Frank's athleticism was contagious. Every summer, he and Gunvor would host a sports camp for their six grandchildren at their farm in Turlock. Frank loved all sports and particularly enjoyed tennis, which he and his wife, Gunvor, played throughout their lives. Simultaneously belonging to the Sportsmen of Stanislaus and the Turlock Racket Club for years gave him ample opportunity to play; once moving to the coast, he joined and remained a member of the Tennis Club of Rio Del Mar. Additionally, Frank's love for animals was unparalleled. He adopted many stray animals, particularly dogs, and even ponies that managed to wander onto their farm in Turlock, guaranteeing them a life of luxury. Frank and Gunvor enjoyed farming, especially driving tractors and growing almond trees. He raised herds of cattle and sheep, naming each such that they became family pets. He enjoyed singing and playing the ukulele, a ritual that became a part of all the family birthday celebrations. His creative writing and imagination enchanted us all. Always a gregarious man, his gift of remembering names was legendary. Frank's greatest joy in life was his enduring romance with his wife, Gunvor. Throughout their years, they were frequent visitors to Hawaii, as well as the East Coast and Norway. He and Gunvor just celebrated their 60 year anniversary. They had two children: his son, Robert Sweetman (Sue), of Arleta, California, and his daughter, Karin Estess (Paul), of Aptos, California. Frank was preceded in death by his mother and father, John and Mary Sweetman. He is survived by his brother, Thomas J. Sweetman, (Linda) and his nieces, Erica Sweetman and Rebecca Strisower; his cousins, Jack and Linda Suttich, Kay and Monte Hess, Karolyn and Jerry Podesta, Cindy and Dennis Collins and their families; Aunt Mary Sweetman, cousin Jeri Chesebrough, his sisters-in-law Randi Chamberlain (Everett) and Eva Pahnke and their families. He rejoiced in the antics and accomplishments of his six grandchildren: Abraham J. Estess and his wife Allyson Marquand; Elisabeth M. Estess and her husband, Mitch Denker; Michael A. Sweetman; David M. Sweetman and his wife, Lauren Harris; Annemarie A. Estess and Ethan E. Estess. Frank and Gunvor's generosity and belief in education funded their grandchildren's college educations. His favorite basketball saying was "stay low and look nifty" and he always did! A modest man of great success, he was our hero. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Guide Dogs for the Blind or to Hospice of Santa Cruz. The celebration of life for Frank G. Sweetman will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, (1050 Cayuga Street Santa Cruz, CA 95062). Please visit to light a candle for Frank and share any condolences with the family.

Turlock Journal
Saturday, December 3, 2011