Frank Joseph Lesnefsky III, 61, of Peckville, went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Wednesday after a hard-fought, nearly two-year battle with stage four pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his dedicated wife of 32 years, the former Susan Ann Wilkes. The couple would have celebrated their 33rd anniversary June 7.
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Born in Peckville, to Frank and Florence Lesnefsky, of Peckville, he graduated from Valley View High School in 1975. Frank received associate degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, but cars were his true passion.
He spent nearly 40 years working side-by-side with his beloved brothers, Jerry and David, at their family garage, Lesnefsky’s Service Center, in Eynon. With grizzled hands caked with dirt and oil stains, Frank loved nothing more than toiling away under cars, taking pride in solving complicated mechanical issues. A master mechanic, his customers cherished him for his perfectionism and attention to detail. Frank continued working at his garage for more than a year after his diagnosis. He didn’t have to go to work day in and day out, but his love for his brothers, his customers and his work eclipsed the side effects of his aggressive treatment.
He and his brothers began working on cars in their parents’ yard as teenagers, eventually opening their own garage in 1980. Inseparable, Frank’s brothers supported him every step of the way.
Although many would view a stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, Frank only viewed it with optimism. He set his mind to beating the disease, spending more than 1,400 hours receiving chemotherapy. When his family reassured him he would beat his cancer against all odds, he simply replied, “I have to.”
Even when chemotherapy stopped working, Frank viewed it as a positive. He could join a clinical trial. He could be cured. He enrolled in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, certain he would beat it. The treatment ravaged his joints, but he persevered, telling his wife he would see it through to the end when she urged him to leave the trial. While Frank wasn’t cured, his family hopes his contribution to pancreatic cancer research will spare other families from experiencing the same pain.
Frank never let cancer slow him down. Described by his wife as “a man’s man,” he lived life as if he were never diagnosed. Besides cars, Frank adored fishing. He fished at least once a week, competing regularly in fishing tournaments across the Northeastern United States as a member of the Leggett’s Creek Bassmasters. He often spent summer afternoons fishing on his bass boat with his son, and the two never missed a first day of trout season together.
When he wasn’t fishing, Frank was either watching fishing shows on TV, reading fishing magazines, pouring his own plastic lures or working on his boat in his garage, re-tying lines and reorganizing lures.
A talented artist regardless of the medium, Frank’s house is filled with his paintings. Whether it was painting snow-covered mountain landscapes or weaving intricate Christmas wreaths for his friends and family, Frank accomplished any artistic feat that he set his mind to.
Frank also loved motorcycles, spending much of his life riding dirt bikes, notably a Kawasaki KX250. Eventually transitioning from trails to roads, he enjoyed riding his Suzuki GSX-R750 sport bike, often going to motorcycle meets to chat with other riders.
In addition to his wife and parents, Frank is survived by his son, Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky, of Peckville; his brothers, Jerry Lesnefsky and wife, Beverly, of Eynon; David Lesnefsky and wife, Donna, of Peckville; his brothers-in-law, Anthony Wilkes and wife, Ann Marie, of Peckville; and Tom Wilkes and wife, Laurene, of Archbald; nieces and nephews, Tiffany, Christopher and David Lesnefsky; Danielle, Joshua, Gabrielle, Arielle, Jonathan, Hannah, Ashley and Ryan Wilkes; great-aunt, Joan Kelley; great-nephews and a great-niece.
He is also survived by his many cousins and lifelong friends.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Frank and Helen Lesnefsky; and Floyd and Cecelia Taylor; and several aunts and uncles.
His family would like to thank Dr. Curtis Chong and staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering; Dr. Jeffrey Gryn and staff at Hematology and Oncology Associates of Northeastern Pennsylvania; Dr. Meghan Haggerty and staff at Northeast Radiology and Oncology Centers; Maria Nealon and Tammy White from Rite Aid Pharmacy, in Eynon; and Maria Davis and Joan Stedenfeld from Home Health Care Professionals & Hospice.
The Lesnefsky family would also like to thank all of our friends, relatives, neighbors, members of our church family and the many customers from Lesnefsky’s Service Center who constantly prayed for Frank. Special thanks to the Revs. Terry Drost, Ernest Drost, Tyler Drost, Nestor Soto, Jack Munley and Andy Kurovsky for their spiritual support during this difficult time. Frank’s family would especially like to thank all of the employees of Valley View School District who generously sent gift cards and donated their sick days to Frank’s wife, allowing her to continue receiving paychecks after she ran out of sick and personal days while caring for her husband. The family would also like to thank his son’s friends and coworkers at The Times-Tribune for their constant support and for allowing Frank’s son to take time off of work to care for his father.
Funeral services will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Peckville Assembly of God, 3364 Business Route 6, Blakely, with the Rev. Terry Drost officiating. Interment will follow at St. Adalbert’s Polish National Catholic Cemetery in Dickson City.
Friends and family may call Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the church.
Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of the Arthur A. Albini Funeral Home, 1003 Church St., Jessup.
Donations may be sent to Peckville Assembly of God, 3364 Business Route 6, Blakely, PA 18447; Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, 967 Griffin Pond Road, South Abington Twp., PA 18411; or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at www.pancan.org.
To leave an online condolence, visit www.albinifh.com.
While the disease may have prematurely stolen Frank from his loving family and friends, he beat cancer. He lived life to the fullest while facing staggering odds against him. An uphill battle against a merciless disease, Frank viewed it as a walk in the park. He still rode his motorcycle. He fished every weekend, competing in regular tournaments. He worked daily, forcing his loving wife to pack him lunches because he would otherwise skip meals to finish his work. Cancer snatched his physical body, but it didn’t steal his spirit. Truly, the Bible verse, Isaiah 30:15, describes Frank: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
We love you, Frank.