Saturday I woke up around 11:15am, which is really early for a day off and not setting my alarm. Usually when that happens, if I can’t fall back asleep, I wind up lying in bed for like an hour or so, but after 15 minutes I just felt like I really needed to get out of bed and go downstairs. So I went down stairs and got online. I couldn’t have been on for more than 15-20 mins when I got an IM from Brian. Now Brian has not IMed me in at least a year, so when all it said was “Have you heard everything that has happened?” I knew it had to be something big. I was half joking and said “Did somebody die?” I definitely was not expecting him to say yes. When he did, I was surprised and all I had time to think was “Well it’s not going to be somebody I really knew,” before he said “Frank Stanley.”
The wake was last night. It was also the first time I’ve driven since Friday morning and I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack and or throw up, but I didn’t. There were so many people there I haven’t seen in so long and have wanted to see for a while. I hate that this is the reason for seeing them. I was really surprised when Kristen hugged me, considering she hasn’t spoken to me in a year. Ricky hugged me too. Also a surprise. I found out that what happened is he was trying to pass a semi truck (like they taught us all in driver’s ed and I would have done the exact same things) and the guy cut him off. So he swerved and lost control of the wheel and that is how he went over the median.
I was told it was an open casket. I’ve only been to Jewish funerals before and they never have an open casket. Plus I expected him to be pretty banged up. So I waited outside for about 50 minutes before I finally went in. They had Frank pins, but by the time I got in, they were gone. Anyway, right after I walked inside I heard some guy say “Jami!” And I looked and after staring for a few seconds, realised it was David Erlandson, who I haven’t seen in five years. Holy cow. Then the guy siting next to him was like “Jami!” And I turned and stared at him for even longer and realised it was Josh [Erlandson], who I haven’t even TALKED to in six years. I wouldn’t have recognised him from a hill of beans. The only reason I knew it was him is because he was sitting next to David. Wow. I talked with Josh for a little while and asked him if he would come in with me to see Frank, cuz I didn’t want to go by myself. So he went in with me and while we were in line, Starla joined us. The thought of seeing a dead person really creeped me out, but when I saw him I realised it was a good thing, because it helps you realise that this is for real. It’s just so hard to believe though, even after all the away messages, xanga entries, and newpaper articles. Seeing him lying there and not breathing was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And it is still really hard to believe that he’s gone But seeing him like that did help to make it real. Not that I want this to be real. I kept expecting him to open his eyes, but he didn’t. This is for real.
Brian invited me to go Franks for the Memories (awesome idea) afterwards with everyone. I drove passed on my way home, but the lights were out, so I just kept driving.
Then later on I wound up calling Brian and crying to him. I just feel so bad for being mean and even worse not apologising and I wish I could take it back. And I just really needed to talk to someone about it and Brian is literally the only person in the world who I could really talk to, in full detail, about this. He made me feel a little better, but I’m still really mad at myself.
I’ve been crying all week. I haven’t been eating or sleeping well either. I got 45 minutes of sleep total last night. For the most part the crying has stopped, not because I’m not upset anymore, but because I’m kind of numb right now and it’s just not coming out anymore. I’ve never been numb before. I think I’d rather go back to crying.
The funeral was this morning. I cried a little bit, like when I saw him and knew it would be the last time I will see him until I get up to Heaven. Which I am beginning to doubt that that is where I will end up, because I just feel like such a bad person right now and that I don’;t deserve to be up there.
There were so many people there today that we couldn’t all fit in the room and some people had to stand out in the hall. Everybody’s heart is like this < / 3. I know mine sure hurts. Barely anybody from Mundelein went to the cemetery. I went with Starla. Even without half the people there, there was still such a huge line of cars. We all went through the toll way.
They didn’t lower him into the ground until after we left. Which was weird. This is all so weird and it is still really hard to believe that he is gone.
I don’t even know what to say anymore. I don’t think I have at all this week. It’s just so hard to believe.
I’m so sorry, Frank. I’m so sorry, God.
Tragedy visits families again
Car crash victim was engaged to sister of slain Ingleside girl
By Lisa Black
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 8, 2004
Franklin Stanley finally came to grips this summer with his younger brother’s 1996 drowning as he comforted his fiance after her sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Willding, was slain.
Now both families are mourning again, this time for Stanley, 20, of Mundelein, who was killed in a car wreck Friday night on his way to his fiance’s apartment.
Stanley, a junior at Illinois State University in Normal, told his parents how he still vividly recalled the sound of ice cracking before his 10-year-old brother, Nathan, slipped into a Mundelein detention pond.
“Frank tried to save him, and Frank blamed himself for that,” his father, Michael Stanley of Ladson, S.C., said Tuesday. “After Lizzie died, he realized it wasn’t his fault. There was nothing he could have done.”
Stanley, a cheerleader at ISU, died after his car swerved across a median into oncoming traffic on Interstate Highway 55 near Braidwood. He was trying to avoid hitting a tractor-trailer that changed lanes, witnesses told Illinois State Police. As of Tuesday, no citations had been issued, police said.
Stanley was on his way to help his fiance, Stephanie Willding, 19, as she moved into a new apartment and returned to DePaul University. On July 14, her sister was stabbed to death in the family’s Ingleside home.
“I was saying goodbye to everybody and dealing with being on my own after Lizzie,” said Willding, who was introduced to her fiance three years ago by a mutual friend involved in community theater.
When Stanley failed to answer his cell phone on his way from his apartment in Normal, she began to get worried, then frantic after hearing news reports about a fatal crash on I-55.
“I knew it was Frank,” she said. “Frank was an amazing person, and I don’t understand why he was taken from us when he had so much to give.”
Stanley was active at Crossroads Church in Grayslake and had gone on missionary trips to Jordan, Peru and Morocco before graduating from Mundelein High School in 2002, said Randy Green, associate pastor of student ministries.
“Frank could fit in anywhere and always had a big smile on his face,” said Green.
He said Stanley visited him a few weeks ago to ask how to help Willding’s family deal with the loss of Elizabeth.
Stanley’s mother, Julie Stanley of Brownsburg, Ind., said her son took on responsibility for his two younger brothers after their parents separated when he was 11.
After Nathan died when Stanley was 12, the family went through counseling, but the boy stayed quiet about his emotions for years, Julie Stanley said.
“He may have fooled himself into thinking it was OK,” she said. “But this summer…he really grieved.”
Her son didn’t want to spend much time on the phone with her during his first two years of college, but after Elizabeth Willding’s death, “his tone of voice was different,” she said. “He made it very clear that it was OK, and whatever I needed to interrupt him for, it was fine.”
Prosecutors are still deciding whether to pursue the death penalty for Adam Christenson, 22, of Ingleside, charged in Elizabeth Willding’s slaying, according to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.
Christenson is accused of stabbing her about 40 times after he confronted her during a burglary attempt. He allegedly entered the Willding home for the second time in two days to steal attachments for a digital camera he had stolen. Christenson was going to pawn the equipment, officials said.
Stanley will be buried in his cheerleading uniform with squad members serving as pallbearers, his mother said.
Her son helped start Mundelein High School’s coed cheerleading team after he watched other squads compete and realized the athletic skills required, she said.
He had no problem fending off c.omments from other guys who teased him.
“He put up with the taunts for a while, then said, `I’m spending all my time with girls and getting all the dates I want,'” she said.
Stanley gave Stephanie Willding a promise ring, but the two put off scheduling a wedding date so they could finish college.
Family members said they were comforted knowing that Stanley had a strong faith in God.
“When Lizzie died and I asked him, `Frank, is there a heaven?’ he said, `I know there is a heaven,'” Stephanie Willding said.
“What I keep doing is, I close my eyes and remember when Lizzie died, Frank put his arm around me and said, `Baby it’s going to be OK,'” she said.
Other survivors include his brother, William, and his grandmother, Lillie Smith.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Burnett-Dane Funeral Home, 120 W. Park Ave., Libertyville.
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
Mundelein grad dies in accident
By Fernando Diaz Daily Herald Staff Writer
Everyone knew him as Frank.
Franklin C. Stanley was a standout member of the Mundelein cheerleading team.
Randy Green, associate pastor of student ministries at Crossroads Church in Mundelein, said Stanley was a pillar of their programs.
“He was the one I would have talk to the visitors,” Green said, adding Stanley could blend in with any group of people and had a huge heart.
On Friday, Stanley died from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident in Grundy County. He was 20 years old.
After graduating from Mundelein High School in 2002, he attended Illinois State University in Normal, where he was also on the cheerleading team.
A spokesman with the Burnett-Dane Funeral Home said Sunday that his mother had gone to Normal to collect his personal effects.
She wanted to have a pennant for the service, because cheerleading was such a big part of his life.
“In the little time that has passed since he died,” Green said, “we have heard from so many people.”
Stanley had been a part of the youth ministries since he and his family became part of the Southern Baptist congregation when they moved to Mundelein 10 years ago.
He was a leader in the music programs and went on several trips with the church around the country and abroad.
In Tennessee, he connected with disadvantaged kids who lived on a ranch. In Morocco, he played a big role in a painting project and reaching out to kids.
In November 1996, Stanley tried desperately to save his brother Nathan by jumping in after him when he fell through a thin layer of ice into a detention pond and drowned.
In more than 200 photos that Green looked through Sunday, there were few where Stanley wasn’t with a bunch of people, or making a goofy face.
“It’s tough to find a picture where he is alone,” Green said. “He always had a smile on his face, that’s just who he was.”
Services for Stanley will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Burnett-Dane Funeral Home, 120 W. Park Ave., in Libertyville. For funeral information, call (847) 362-3009.
Ex-Mundelein man killed
Meanwhile in downstate Braceville, Franklin Stanley, 20, a former Mundelein resident, was killed Friday evening after the car he was driving crossed the median on Interstate 55 near Braceville in Grundy County and struck a southbound vehicle.
He was taken from the scene to St. James Hospital and Health Center campus in Olympia Fields, where he was pronounced dead.
When Stanley crossed the median into southbound I-55 traffic, he crashed in the vehicle driven by Anthony Arnold, 28, of Lockport. Arnold was airlifted via LifeStar helicopter to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was listed in critical condition.
The accident occurred about 6 p.m. Friday, and caused traffic to be shut down in both directions for about 90 minutes. Traffic in the northbound lanes of I-55 opened up at about 7:30 p.m., and both roads were cleared by 11 p.m.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
Stanley graduated from Mundelein High School in 2002. He was currently a junior at Illinois State University in Normal where he was on the cheerleading squad and active with show choir and theater.
He was a member of Crossroads Church in Grayslake where he had participated in three overseas mission trips.
He is survived by his fiance, Stephanie Willding of Chicago; his parents, Julie Stanley of Brownsburg, Ind., Michael (Christina) Stanley of Ladson, S.C.; his brother, William of Brownsburg; and his grandmother Lillie Smith of Iuka, Mo.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Burnett-Dane Funeral Home, 120 W. Park Avenue, Libertyville. Internmet will follow at Mt. Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst. Visitation will be from 5-9 p.m. on Tuesday.