Via Basel: Ode To Frank

I recently lost a dear friend, Frank Lettiere, who by any measure was the most colorful, spontaneous, and unconventional character I have ever encountered. This past Saturday at his favorite bar on Chicago’s south side, family and friends gathered to celebrate his full life and remember.

Paying tribute, standing on a stool at the bar, I read this poem:


Ode To Frank

Adventurer, world traveler crisscrossing countries.

Mountains, forests, rivers, or open prairies, you loved them all,

less traveled back roads and undeveloped raw nature your favorites.

Less by plane and more by train was your mode, but mostly on horseback.

And of course on foot, walking, no, sauntering with your backpack

slung on one shoulder, and your beret slightly tilted.

Limping along with a deformed left ankle, remnant of an old accident,

which to be accommodated, required you to make holes in your boot.

The right knee after many years of abuse needed a replacement.

Many miles later that wore out, too, leading to TKA 2.0.*

Not one to follow advice and caution, some years later your right hip fell apart.

Another replacement, then infection…more surgery.

It was exhausting. I should know. I was the surgeon.

Over 30 years we worked, traveled, hiked the forest preserves together,

conversed in subjects too numerous to mention, mostly while drinking beer.

Your love for beer was only surpassed by your thirst for people.

Frank, Sinatra was right. You did it your way.

Different in many ways, we bonded in many more.

A more authentic yet imperfect person I do not know.

A friendship forged in life experiences, both high and low.

Connection and loyalty so deep it borders on the mystical.

May your weary body and wandering soul find rest and peace,

wherever you are.

*Total Knee Arthroplasty (updated)

Frank “Goat” Lettiere (July 18, 1941—October 5, 2019) once rode his horse, Duchess, 1750 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Cody, Wyoming. He said he just wanted to ride to the Buffalo Bill Bar and have a beer with good people. He met a lot of other good people on the way, on that trip as well as his other journeys, walking or horseback riding in Ireland, England, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Africa, Peru, and New Zealand. Known as a man of romance and adventure, he will be missed.

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, retired, he will have more time for that. Frank Lettiere was and is an inspiration to him.

Frank Lettiere’s Obituary at Legacy

Basel Al-Aswad in Alaska

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.