Owner of Mann’s Bait Company Passes Away

Francis Joseph Oelerich, Jr. passed away in Alabama on December 28, 2021. The son of Francis Joseph, Sr. and Helen Spillane Oelerich, he was born in 1936 in Chicago. He attended Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity school in Winnetka and graduated from New Trier High School in 1954.

Told by Notre Dame football coach Terry Brennan that he was unlikely to see any meaningful playing time at quarterback, he enrolled instead at the University of Dayton, to the good fortune of his offspring. There he met the love of his life, Anita Lois Midlam. They graduated in 1958, she with high honors, he by the skin of his teeth.

After a tour in the Army, Frank married Anita in 1959, and they moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he took a position with Owens-Illinois. Over the next two decades, five children and a dozen moves across the U.S. and Europe followed.

After stints running two other packaging companies, he bought a fishing tackle manufacturer, Mann’s Bait, in 1985, in Eufaula, Alabama, where he spent the last 36 years of his career bringing affordable baits to fish in need.

Despite his busy business schedule, Frank always managed to find time to coach his kids’ sports teams (though never to a championship) and to intimidate the suitors not only of his daughters but also of his sons. An avid sportsman, he claimed third place in the Class D Club Championship at North Shore Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin, in 1968 (after a match of cards), and bore the scars of six years of semi-pro hockey.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anita; his sons Francis J. III (Mary), Kurt (Gwen) and Greg (Delight); daughters Susan (Rem) Myers and Sally (Tony Deger); grandchildren Molly (Andrew) Kidd, Margo (Nate) Johnson, Madeline (Ryan) Shea, Megan and Mamie Oelerich; Rem, Ellie, Hank (Hannah), and Hutch Myers; Jenny, Julie and Sam Oelerich; Max and Lars Oelerich; and Liam and Dexter Highducheck and Dorian Deger; great grandchildren Mick, Sophie, Clare and Kelly Kidd; as well as his siblings John (Kate) and William (Karen) Oelerich, and Mary Elizabeth (Mark) Goldberg, of whom he grew quite fond only as they mellowed in the advanced years of their lives.

Services have been held. The family plans a celebration of his life later this year. Instead of flowers the family requests contribution to any organization that fights socialism in the U.S.