Army veteran Frank Stillmock, who grew up in South Omaha, never wanted his comrades to be forgotten.
Every week, he would scan the newspaper looking for World War II veterans who had died.
He cut out the obituaries and pasted them into a book. Teresa Stillmock, his daughter-in-law, recently paged through the book and counted nearly 700.
A paratrooper during the war, Frank Stillmock also rang a bell outside his Battle Ground, Wash., residence 21 times each time a veteran died. It was his way of honoring them.
“He felt a camaraderie with veterans,” Teresa Stillmock said. “He understood what they sacrificed more than anyone else could and he wanted to honor their service.”
Frank Stillmock, 90, died of lung cancer Thursday in Omaha.
He was born July 5, 1923. As a youth, he played on a baseball team coached by future Omaha mayor Johnny Rosenblatt.
His mother, Mary Stillmock, was left with an empty nest in the 1940s when all five of her sons — Frank, Edward, Bob, Gene and Leo — were serving in the war. She had five brothers who had served in World War I, said Mark Stillmock, Frank's son.
Frank Stillmock was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division and was a paratrooper with Company D of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
The division is known in part for its successful 1945 parachute jump and ground attack in the Philippines to free more than 2,000 prisoners at the Los Banos prison camp controlled by the Japanese.
Stillmock used to pass out cards with information about the raid. The cards said the prisoners watched the paratroopers float down from the sky like “angels,” said Teresa Stillmock.
All of the Stillmock brothers were home safely by 1946. Frank Stillmock left the Army as a staff sergeant.
He had various civilian jobs, including owning and operating a bar in Council Bluffs.
Stillmock married, raised two children, Mark and Mary, and later divorced. He moved to Battle Ground with his longtime partner, Dolly, and lived there for about 20 years.
For about 10 years, Stillmock would visit Omaha and stay with Mark and Teresa during Husker football season. He would ride down to NU games on a shuttle bus that departed from South Omaha. He had a great time doing that, Mark Stillmock said.
Frank Stillmock made a lot of friends and had many associates while serving in the military and by being involved with the 11th Airborne Division Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Sometimes he made an effort to honor veterans he didn't know at all.
When Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Bock, a Nebraska native, died in Afghanistan in 2010, Stillmock stood on the corner outside the service and saluted those who attended. He did so with tears in his eyes, Teresa Stillmock said.
Due to declining health, he moved back to Omaha to live with his son two months ago.
Frank Stillmock remained patriotic until the day he died, his family said. Mark and Teresa have a 20-foot flag pole in their front yard. Stillmock made sure the flag was raised, or at half-staff when it needed to be.
His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Heafey-Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler West Center Chapel, 7805 West Center Road.