Henrico man still ‘making flavor’

Retire (v.) - (1)To withdraw, as for rest or seclusion.

(2) To withdraw from one’s occupation, business, office, or usual field of activity.

(3) To stop working.

No matter how a dictionary defines retirement, any self-respecting edition should mark the entry with an asterisk: Does not apply to Frank Daylor.

Retired a decade ago this month from Philip Morris USA, Daylor spent 34 years there “making flavors” — particularly for chewing gum. Those of a certain age may recall a few products he helped develop, both at PM and at his previous employer, Beechnut.

Remember Clark’s Teaberry gum, a former PM product (and inspiration for the Teaberry Shuffle)? Or “Yipe Stripes,” the striped gum by Beechnut?

“I tasted a lot of chewing gum!” Daylor says with a laugh now — but the years of tasting haven’t stopped him from continuing to experiment with flavors.

He makes a mean egg nog for Christmas gatherings and whips up specialties like clam chowder for get-togethers with the PIGS. That’s the Progressive Investment Gourmet Society, founded at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the late 1960s as a retirement program for the late pastor. Over the years, Daylor reports, members have broken even and more on their investments.

“But that’s not the true focus,” he emphasizes of the monthly meetings in members’ homes. “It’s really an eating and drinking society!”

A native of Fall River, Mass., Daylor grew up the youngest of five siblings in an extended-family household of grandparents, aunts and uncles.

While studying chemistry at Fordham, he reconnected with his future wife Joan, a high school classmate. (Coincidentally, Joan was also the daughter of a man who was drafted into World War I with Daylor’s father in 1917.)

After his brief military stint and a few years in upstate New York, Frank and Joan settled in Henrico.

Their three children attended St. Mary’s and other parochial schools, which led Daylor into one of his many volunteer careers: advocating for Catholic schools. Founder of the St. Mary’s Parent-Teacher Organization, he went on to lead the area-wide federation of home-school associations and play numerous other supportive roles — including TV appearances on behalf of vouchers.

Meanwhile, he also served as one of the original Eucharistic ministers at St. Mary’s Church and went on to become a lector, while Joan was the “guitar lady” and a volunteer for diocesan English as a Second Language programs.

Daylor speaks of his children John (a realtor and the father of his three grandchildren), Patricia (an optometrist), and Christine (a United Airlines employee) with obvious pride, and readily admits to a lack of foresight when it comes to career advice.

When John left a solid job with benefits and a steady income to go into real estate, for instance, his father remembers thinking the move was “crazy.”

“I’ve never been so wrong in my life,” Daylor says now, with a nod to his son’s success.

A lifelong interest in football — which he admits he played in high school “without much notoriety” — got him involved in his sideline career as an official.

Even today, he can reel off names of standout players, coaches and teams he observed in the 1970s — from Barty Smith, a Freeman grad who went on to the pros, to Benedictine’s Carroll Jarvis — and recall high school, college and minor league games he officiated from Kilmarnock to Emporia to Bluestone.

Not to mention recite a few stories.

Zebra tales
Racial tension was a constant at games in that era of desegregation, busing, and redistricting, and player complaints of namecalling and epithets were among the challenges facing a referee. But Daylor’s favorite anecdotes recall the light·hearted incidents — such as the halftime when a janitor inadvertently locked in the Huguenot H.S. team.

Since the home team spent halftime in a facility near the field, it took everyone else awhile to figure out why Huguenot hadn’t shown up for the second half. And Daylor says he couldn’t resist teasing the freed-but-frustrated HHS coach: “You’re late! That’s gonna cost you 15!”

In another favorite memory, Daylor officiated a night game at Westover School between the Bon Air Bruins and the New River Marines from Camp Lejeune. When the contest ended in a tie, officials thought they were through; but to their dismay, the teams insisted on playing overtime and the game dragged on with no score.

“It’s alleged,” says Daylor, with a playful grin, “that after several possessions, one team [missed] a field goal, and I [signaled a score] and said, “Close enough! Seven-Eleven closes in five minutes!’ “

Every third Wednesday of the month, Daylor joins approximately 70 or so other retired coaches, officials, principals and sportswriters for breakfast and a round of similar stories at a meeting of the WARTS.

“Now who put that name together, I don’t know,” he chuckles. “It was there before I retired.”

The acronym, he explains, stands for Worn-out Associated Retired Taskmasters Society; and as the name would indicate, “It’s an organization of no particular structure.”

Speakers range from journalists to professional athletes, and conversation is heavy on “the good old days” and “keeping up on who’s where. It’s a keep-the-home-fires-burning kind of thing.”

And the acronyms go on. In addition to WARTS and PIGS, Daylor has volunteered for ACT NOW (“Awareness of Crime Today, Neighbors on Watch”), a program of the Henrico County Division of Police.

Daylor got involved with ACT NOW, which provides citizen patrols at county malls during the holiday season, after graduating from Henrico’s 10th Citizens Police Academy. He learned about Citizen’s Academy when he playfully confronted his friend Jack Polly, a CPA alumnus who surprised him by riding by in a police car.

“Aren’t prisoners supposed to ride in the back?” Daylor teased Polly — only to find himself recruited to attend the next academy.

The latest acronym in Daylor’s life is WOW (“Widows or Widowers”) a group from St. Mary’s that meets for socializing and support.

Since the loss of his wife Joan in Nov. 2002, Daylor has incorporated visits to her Westhampton Cemetery grave site into his daily routine (along with near-daily visits to church and the Y). Keeping the calendar full is one way he copes, and the WOW events help somewhat.

“I think it will perpetuate itself,” he says of the new group. “It’s a good thing to do. We have no yearbook and no diploma,” he adds with a smile, “but we already have two graduates [who left the group and married].”

Daylor says he and the children also try to cope by trying to live as Joan would want. A month after her death, for instance, the family agonized over whether to hold their annual Christmas Day party. But since Joan had started the tradition — a response to people who rushed off from Christmas morning masses saying they had to go cook — they went ahead with the celebration. “We were very, very glad we did it,” says Daylor.

Another celebration he continues in Joan’s memory is a trip to New York City for St. Patrick’s Day — an event the couple first attended in 1956 and revived after Frank’s retirement.

In 2003, the first St. Patrick’s Day without Joan, Daylor wasn’t sure how much he could enjoy the parade or the big post-parade party.

When daughters Patty and Christine volunteered to accompany him, he wondered, “Does that mean they don’t trust me? Or that they want to carry on for their mother?”

Suffice it to say that all enjoyed the trip, and that Daylor will be returning to New York City for St. Pat’s in 2004.

“We’re keeping something going that Joan loves,” he says with a smile. “And she always loved watching me make a fool of myself!”
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The Latin Ballet of Virginia will perform “NuYoRican” at 12:30 p.m. at Tuckahoe Library and at 4:30 p.m. at Varina Library. The true stories of thousands of Puerto Ricans migrating to the United States after World War II are portrayed through dances like La Plena La Bomba, as well as Mambos, Salsas, Latin Jazz and Reggaeton. For details, visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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