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Fran Slasinski, 78, Wooed Wife Flying Paper Airplanes Over A Westfield Fence

A hand holds a paper airplane.
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/hgz

One western Massachusetts resident who recently died from COVID-19 is Fran Slasinski of Westfield. 

He wasn't feeling well in March, and was told he likely had COVID-19, but to isolate at home. Slasinski got worse, though, and ended up in the COVID ICU at Baystate in Springfield. He was 78 years old.

"Everybody calls him Fran. And we call him Dad. The grandkids call him Papa," said the eldest of Slasinski’s three daughters, Brenda Kantor.

Kantor's father and her mother, Rita, were married for 61 years. They were high school sweethearts.

"My dad and her would exchange paper airplanes over the fence," Kantor said. "Their high schools were next to each other in town."

Kantor said that when she was 10 or 12, the family took a vacation to Florida and Texas to visit relatives.

"In a van that my dad had modified to have enough places for us to sleep," she said. "So he took out the back seat and made a loft type bed. And we had to have a suitcase packed so tightly that it had to fit underneath the bed."

But the family was used to that, since Slasinski was a mechanical engineer.

"Everything was measured in millimeters and inches, and this and that," Kantor said. "And it has to be this size and this way, very precise. He was always like that in every part of his life."

Slasinski also had a passion for fishing — Kantor said catch-and-release was his style.

"He had a lot of friends that he fished with in different locations," Kantor said. "And he went away weekends to participate in tournaments. He helped in judging in tournaments. He helped teaching about how to do it, and different equipment to use, and different techniques."

Francis Richard Slasinski died on April 20 after what his family describes as a "courageous battle with COVID-19."

In the future, they plan to hold a celebration of his life at the local fishing club he belonged to.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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