April 15, 2012

"Remembering a Housing Legend"

What I am about to share may not resonate with you but for those in HBAs across our Federation who have lost a legendary member, you'll understand and you will remember, again, the teachings of the true reason we are here as volunteers and why it matters.

Frank Farinella

"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." ~ Unknown

As I write I feel a tremendous sadness for a loss and a slight smile of remembrance of a person who helped shape me as I am today as it pertains to my involvement with the home builders association.

Frank Farinella passed away this past Wednesday, April 11th, 2012. His passing means that Heaven's home building team became deeper with talent and, more importantly, immeasurably deeper with passion. Frank always cared deeply about housing and that caring was passed on to his four children, two of whom are builders, as well as all the builders and associates in his world. I knew Frank, but my friendship with him came towards the latter part of his life. The history that I know about Frank came from those many members he mentored and worked with, shoulder to shoulder, on protecting the dream of home-ownership. 

The phrase "time, talent and treasure" did not begin with Frank but he certainly brought it to a much higher and meaningful level. Frank served as the president of the New Jersey Builders Association in 1975 and he also served on the executive board and the board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders. He later was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. During his time in our Federation his daughter, Mary Caporaso, and son-in-law, Steve Caporaso, both served as presidents of NJBA. This is a direct result of the values and visions that Frank shared with his family, but others he guided towards leadership as well. Frank believed with all his heart that he had to give back to the industry tenfold from what he received. He believed that building homes for families was a noble profession and his HBA leadership roles, and the way he led his professional life, would not have been any different. Looking back he would most likely would have said "I wish there were more I could have done."

Frank was the consummate straight talker and he lived by the adage "say what you mean and mean what you say" and then some. He never backed away from a challenge and when he committed to the initiative it was a masterpiece of leadership. Builders, such as fellow NAHB Hall of Famer and past NJBA president Len Sendelsky, would share with me stories of PAC meetings or board meetings where passions ran so high, all for the love of our association and industry, you would have thought a physical fight would break out, with Frank in the mix the entire way. When the meetings were over the love and fellowship of peers and friends took its natural perch at the top of it all and Frank was loved even deeper. Associate leader Lenny Yanchar explained to me that one of his greatest mentors was Frank Farinella. Lenny would share with me, over the years, and to this day, Frank's vision of what the association is truly all about and why "we do what we do." Lenny would say that if it weren't for mentors like Frank he would not have realized the importance of working together as an industry, not as builder and associate. Lenny has mentored the way Frank taught and those lessons have proved their value time and time again.

Each visit to the NAHB Housing Center in Washington, more specifically when the executive board meets, I always look up at the name over the entrance way to the meeting room and proudly see Frank Farinella's name etched in the plaque which identifies the room. Some may have known Frank, others just see a name. I saw a man, a father, a leader, a home building industry legend. I also see his guidance through those whose lives he touched which is more meaningful than any plaque can express. Those teachings are making their way down to the next generation of NJBA members, reaching out across the Federation. The next HBA generation may not have known who Frank was and what he accomplished for all of us, or even have heard Frank's name spoken, but they certainly can and will feel a tremendous presence which is all Frank Farinella.

God Speed, Frank. We will never forget what you meant to all of us here in New Jersey within your  "NJBA family" and we will miss you, more than we will ever realize. I'm sure you are making your arrival well known up above and those meetings of "Heavens members" are much more engaged and enthused.

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP, a beneficiary of Frank Farinella's life's lessons, and on behalf of all of Frank's NJBA family.


Dianne Beaton said...

Mike, your words helped me to know Frank knowing that I have never met him! I would hope that we can share our passion and enthusiasm with our counter parts so they may embrace the HBA family atmosphere!

Lenny said...

Mike I just want to add Frank was one of those people who did not talk the talk, but he walked the walk. In fact on all his stationary was this quote:

“Every man owes part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.” - Theodore Roosevelt

He always would tell you how grateful he was for the association and what it does, he looked at it as his family and I must admit he and his wife Josephine made be feel like a son and boy when I got off track he would let me know as only a father can do.

George Vallone said...

Frank was one of my first mentors after I joined the Metropolitan Chapter of NJBA in 1981. He encouraged me to join the Board and soon after to run for office. Whenever he saw me, he would greet me by saying, "What's happening kid?" The true essence of Frank was that he really meant it. Frank would then sit down and listen and talk with me for as long as I liked offering his sage advice based on his decades of experience. He took the time to help me even though I'm sure he had many other things to do. To try and give back for Frank's generousity, I have made it a part of my life to be like Frank and give back too. I often speak to our membership on finance and redevelopment subjects and offer advice to young members whenever I am asked. He will always be an inspiration and role model on the way to lead a good life. Frank, I'll miss you. I hope the zoning laws in Heaven are easier than in NJ.