Frank & Ann Cean
Northern. New York community, podcasts. Stories, from the heart of our community welcome. To this edition of the northern New York Community podcast. I'm your host max tell signor, we, have a special conversation, here, in store for you it, is our pleasure to have Franken, and Keane with us we, will chat with them about their love and appreciation for the North Country Frank. Will provide some insight, into the rise and success of Milton Brothers and Knowlton technologies, in Watertown, and, we will ask them both about why giving back locally, is important. To, the future of northern New York Frank. And Ann it's great to have you both here. So, let's start with both you being natives of the North Country, can, you just each of you briefly share with us a little bit about the community where you grew up and and I'll start with you first yes. I grew, up in Watertown. I'm Stonestreet. Went, to st. Patrick's, elementary. When. I died EJ. Graduated. In 1960. If. Frank was a Brownville for you yes. I'm a general, problem graduate. Graduated. In 1960. Born. And went. Peninsula, but I, was 2 years old moved to Brownsville and that's where I spent my life, what, were the communities, like, respectively. Watertown, and Brownville, kind. Of in and around that time in the 50s and early 60s, Brahma. Wasn't a small very. Tight-knit community. Everybody. Help raise you your, kids so I didn't get away with a whole lot. Was. Very well managed, by all, the citizens of in. Brownville. What, was it like in the city and at that time well. We lived in the, 500, block and, all. The neighbors knew. You and took. Care of you like their up that their own and, we. As, he said you, wouldn't get away with anything because. There's. People that knew you but. You. Didn't know and they would tell on you. Well. In the in the city especially has. Has changed so much over time and, I, feel like in that era of the 50s and 60s Watertown. Was still not, that it isn't today but a different. But thriving city yeah would you would you say, that that's accurate that's true yes what. Do you love most about growing up in the north country a place, where again a lot, of families took, care of you looked out for you outside of just your parents but, what do you appreciate the most about growing. Up in northern New York and especially. Given the time that you've spent here, I don't, know outdoors person and I. Like to hunt fish and. Those. Things are all available here the. Small communities, are very attractive. To me that's, why I grew up and. Raised. My kids, raised. My grandkids, and now. Raising my great-grandkids, or helping I should say helping raise my great-grandkids. Are. We our hands, doing, most of the work a. Little. Bit. What. Do you love most and about northern, New York well. The four seasons, and, being. Able to I, guess. Grow with your children. Your grandchildren and. Great-grandchildren I. Guess. We know quite, a few around. The area and we. Used to live in Brownville as a, married, couple and, when. We moved, to Tennessee, you. Know we were there for about five, years and, then. We came back and went to Henderson. And it's. Beautiful, out there. When. I get back to that that, part in a second about coming back home after being away for a short time, to. Revisit something you mentioned - about families. Around you helping. You kind of raise you and grow up and of course you have your parents one, of the things we do on this podcast is we peel back the layers of, a person's or a couple's values, and giving back to their community, where. Would you say your, values, for giving back to the community and giving back to help others where. Did those values come from for, each of you my. Grandfather. Had in the local grocery store in Brownville. He. Was a person that helped, many people during. The Depression, I heard. Some many of those stories of some, of the things that he had done and. He. Was a person that continued, to give all his life, he's. A person, that I had, my and. Tried. To be. Like. Him in many, ways my. Folks. Were. Not well-to-do. People, but. There were people that volunteered. Their, time and. That's. As valuable as. Donating. Money if. You can't afford, to give were. There certain things Frank, that they always, volunteered. For, well. Community. Events my, father was. An. Artist of, sorts and he, did, all of the paintings, and, the uniforms. Of the fire department, you belong to the fire department and his. Art was around the store when. I was a kid and. Where. I worked spent. A lot of my time as well my grandfather's, store and. Not. Just my grandfather's, but my aunt my, aunt's as well and. Agenor, and Brennan's which I think, was part of the history of Brownville I was. A paperboy there, I worked at, the. Store and. When. I. Graduated. Went into the service and, we. Returned to Brownville, after, I was married spent.
Several. Years there, before, leaving. Me go to Chattanooga, from. My employment at the time and. What about you just the the. Values, of giving back where, did those come from for, you well. I would say probably, my. Dad and, mom. Were both, very outgoing, and. He. Worked. For a laundry and dry cleaning and. What. Our ton linen supply so, he was very busy. My. Mom also, worked part time and. What. They were into, the PTA, in the schools and. The. Fairs and all that. So, is. There anything your parents ever told you a motto. Or, anything. That you can remember that you can't, it's kind of stuck with you and in the way you're living today yes. Wow. One. Time I had borrowed. I think, a dime from a friend and. I. Had. To take it out of my allowance and I was complaining, about, you, know my, allowance at the time was like fifty cents, so. I was gonna have to give up ten cents of it and. I was complaining. A little bit about it and my father looked at me said you know if. You, borrow a nickel, from somebody and don't, pay him back they. Botch if our nickel how much you're worth and. Now. That's stuck with me so. Where did the two of you meet. Do. You remember how you met or. How. We met when I got out of service in. 1965. It. Was I, knew, and even when we were both out and. There. Was a song. And a jukebox that I thought I'd like to dance - I wasn't much of a dancer but I thought I could at the time and we. Danced, and, then. Went to a, local. Diner. Thanked, several cups of coffee and. The. Rest is history do you remember the song mm-hmm. Yes I do what was the song was called the Jolly Green Giant. You. Can't find, the song. It. Was. So. - to look at after. Your time at the cert in the service and you came back and sought. Employment. Your. Specialty, or part, of your college. Studies Frank was in paper, science engineering, correct, that's correct when, you came back from from, serving overseas. Did. You know exactly I want to continue on this track this is the profession, that I wanted to be in no, I actually, was, in electronics, in the service, and I. Had interviewed. Bell. Telephone and, when, I got out of the service and. I. Was. Going to college at the same time. They. Asked, me when I would graduate from. Jefferson Community College, and I gave, them a date the. Meantime I had no job I, actually. That's, not true I was, working for the State, Department. Of Environmental Conservation as, a state trapper. But. The job ended. In. October. November and I. Got married in August. Friend. Of mine said. To me what you're gonna do it in, August. September when the job goes I said, I don't know I didn't really thought about it now. I'm married and you. Know you're supposed to be able to support. Your wife but, at. That time I guess was a little carefree, wasn't. Wasn't my number-one priority, anyways. He said, to me anything. Comes up at the mill he, says auxiliary, will call I. Started. In September. Of 1965. Working, at Knowlton's, well. The intent that, I was going to ultimately, end up at Bell Telephone in. The electronics, field, after. I was there a couple of years David Knowlton, owner of Knowlton brothers at the time.
Offered. Me the, opportunity to, go to Syracuse and. Study paper science engineering, I did. I accepted. That offer and. Graduated. A week. Before my 30th, birthday, the. Circus, and, challenge. Of environmental. Science. Forestry. Came. Back to Knowlton's, to work right. I interviewed, 31 companies, at the time i had, 31, job offers. Obviously. I was a little older and I'd had experience, I had, a family so, I was. The type of person, that people thought. They wanted to hire so, but. I came back to Knowlton and. Fortunately. That, was. A good decision on my part, was. It difficult was, there a draw to come back home was, that one of the deciding, factors and, pursuing. That opportunity, I'm saying this is the one definitely, yes this. Was home and I had. A job a good job and opportunity. To come back here and it. Was easy - it was easy to accept. Come back here it's. Home was, that part of, part. Of your thinking too and as you're kind of making this decision of do. You stay or do you go was. Home kind of an important thing for both of you to make, sure that you're here to raise your kids and your family oh yes, our kids, you. Know had been raised rate through general Brown and, the. Families. Both families, were here, aunts. Uncles, but. That, was where his job was going to be as in Chattanooga, so, we. Moved and, my, mother-in-law made, the comment, if I, known we will see, so, little of you and, see. Him all the time she. Wouldn't let us go. Because. He. Was home like, every. Every. Week. Not. Every week but I was, here frequently I. Was. Corporate, vice president, of manufacturing for, all five, plants. At the time so. I traveled, to all of those plants, and. Somehow. I seem to be able to return, here on an open day of duck season our. Bass season, and whatever else it was so. I was. Home frequently. And. I, guess. I never really left. In. The mid, 1980s. Nolan, Brothers was in a precarious, position and the, business was slated for closure. What. Was your plan to. Save the business he. Tell that story I. Was. Involved in making the decision to close the plant, all. Corporate, officers. Studied. The opportunity, of the lack of at, the time we. Put. Together a scenario after. Studying all potentials. And what would have to be invested, in watertown and, the. Decision, was made to, close. Myself. And, another gentleman who, was also from Watertown Bob Ward well actually. Resisted. That sale and. We. Were able to, delay. The closing. Take, a second, look at it Bob and I both worked at putting. Together what I called scenario, number two and. While. It showed, the. Potential of some profits, it did not have the return on investment that, the corporation. Required, I. Continued. To work on another scenario which I called scenario number three and. I. Was. Unable to, convince. Them that this scenario, was was one, that was, real, and. As. A result had to cast my vote for closing it as well, I, came. To Watertown to, close. The plant and. Immediately. Ran into one of my, friends that I'd grown up with and I. Spent the last two. Or three days, touring. The plant meaning. All my friends had grown up with worked, with and. Made. The decision that I. Couldn't. Close it I went. Back to corporate. And they asked me how everything went I said not. Very well, and. Why, not because. I. Didn't. I didn't close. So. They. Asked me what I was going to do and. Why I wasn't going to close I said. I'm gonna make you an offer. You're. Gonna make me an offer yes well. He. Says make, her offer and I'll take it to corporate well. See. What happens, I took. A sheet. Of paper y'all, notebook, pad right off his desk made. The offer that was my official, offer and. 13. Months later I was proud, owner of, Knowlton. Specialty, papers, which. I renamed, Knowlton Brothers at the time to Norman specialty, papers. 22. Years later. When. I was preparing. To leave the company retire, the. Name was changed to known technologies. Which it is today, it's. A very profitable. Company, it's. A very proud company. And I'm glad, to have been part of it the. Subsequent. Owners have, continued, the. Progress. That. I started, and. Continues. To expand and grow and that. Old paper mill which is the oldest continuous, operating, paper mill in North, America, is. Still. Operating today, continuously. Since 1808. And. Continues. To grow while the health side of that building is, old. The, interior. Is, state-of-the-art and. Well. It's to, turn the paper mill it. Doesn't really make, what we term, as paper that. Does Engineers composites, and filtration media primarily, today it's still today and. I'm. Really proud to as, I said I'm very proud to have been part of it you. Were the leader of a local business that employed. So, many folks for decades and as you said some.
Of Your friends, families, that you knew what. Did that experience, as the president, of a, important. Local business. Teach. You what. Does it teach me. Perseverance. Patience. Which. I was, not blessed with a lot of, but. I was able to acquire. Some patience, as as, years went by I guess, maybe maybe time took there that I don't know for sure I, did. Learn that we, have a, workforce. That bar. None is superior. To. Any, of the other locations, that I managed. The. North Country. Employees. Supported. Me every, day I was there in 22, years that I was owner of that company, I'm. So, proud of what they were able to accomplish I, provided. The opportunity. The. Men and women of that company, made, it happen now. Even though you sold a stake. In the business as you mentioned a few years ago you're. Still looking to innovate and generate. New business there's. Some ventures that, that you're exploring at least the. Question is will you ever officially, retire. Theoretically. I've retired but no I. I have, several, ventures, which I've been involved, in, everything. From a marina. Gone. Down was plant in Utica. To. Raising. Exotic. Animals, in Texas and. Hopefully. I'm going to be, constructing. A bio digester. On. A local farm in. The spring, so. Of course all this happens and. You. Know such a transformational. Change for the business, but. It doesn't happen without having a spouse, by your side to support and help you to at the same time how. Important. Was it or how critical, was having and support. And. You. Know her love and care with you along the way this professional, journey, it. Was critical, and. Has been by my side now. For 51, years been. Very supportive. All the way hopefully, I've been supported, to her as well but. She is she's. Carried the load of. Raising. Our children grandchildren, working. Raising a grandchildren. Great-grandchildren. Managed. Our home and. Whole. Life was, away quite a bit, she. Kept things going and. Still. Does that today. I'm. A very blessed, individual. Well. On top of that too and it was for. You also working in Agri mohawk uh-huh, and helping, to manage the marina - so. How did you juggle all the, the, moving parts to keep the, family going strong, and everybody on the straight and narrow you.
Just. Did. I mean it was just a way of life when. He was going to school I worked at marine. Midland, and. Through. Pregnancy, and. His. College, and, it. Was just what. We did you know you, just didn't think about it I. Also. Was, a brownie leader for, a number. Of years and. Then. When I moved, to Tennessee I, had, to give that up. Did. You pick it back up when you moved back home, no. I had, other things going, on. You. Know one of the things that and and being a brownie leader is a good example of and segue into this question but whether it was through the business or, doing. It personally, you always. Felt that it was important to give back to the community where you lived, what. Were a few of the community organizations. Or causes, that you felt were most important, to you well. I'm on. The. Hospital. Foundation and. I. Support. That, too, my efforts work, and. Also. Financially. I've. Continued, to support the College the. Franken. And Kean. Aquatic. Research station, on Governors, Island as, a. Venture. Which I supported, through. The college and. Again. Supporting, the North Country I think. It's very important, that anyone. Who can support. The, needs of the North Country which are many. Unfortunately. Where. We. Do live in the country, we. Do live in a part of the state that I don't feel is. Recognized. By, our politicians. In New York City. Therefore, everything, we can do for ourselves is. Going. To benefit, us, the. Future of the North Country the. Future of our children. Grandchildren and. If. It's. Possible I, think, anyone, should involve, themselves either, through volunteer, work. Financial. Work anything. They can do and, and. The. North country is blessed with people that have done that I always, continues, to amaze me the amount of money that is donated by. Citizens. Of the north country and. I hope that someday I'll, be, able to do more than I'm doing now, these. Efforts that I'm involved in. Hopefully. They'll be profitable, and I'll be able to do more. And, is there is there a way, you. Know Frank makes a good point about being able to help the, next generation. Sharing. Those same values so that hopefully they give back the way that really. Your generation, has me there are a number of folks citizens, in this north country who have demonstrated. Significant. Means, of giving, back to help others and the communities where we live, how. Do we inspire, younger. Children or, young adults to. Think about giving, back to their, community. Well. The great grandchildren. They're you. Know at that like, a sponge, so. No matter what, they see example. They.
Will, Participate. And. We. You. Know we go to church on Sunday, and we. Bring, the great-grandchildren, and. He. Is. The. Oldest of seven and he's just right. In there singing, us every, Sunday, and and he. Knows when it comes time for the, basket. That you donate. And. His. Sister, is a little. Younger so she hasn't quite had you. Know the influence but, it's. Coming along and the. Youngest is two, he's. He. Hasn't stopped running. Yes. Well it's it's a terrific point you make too and about the, church being. An instrumental, reason. For, why folks learn together how they learn to give we've, had other folks that we've been fortunate enough to interview, on the podcast who, have actually expressed the same thing that that was a vehicle. Or a place where they actually learned some. Of these same philanthropic, values. You. Live near Henderson Harbor you mentioned now you've. Made. Many, commitments. Helped, many others either, through the business in the marina or, personal. Philanthropic endeavors. To support, southern Jefferson County, you, made a lead contribution. To support the, six town Community Fund through. The northern New York Community Foundation, which supports programs. And projects, in southern. Jefferson County, forever, why. Was giving, that particular effort, and fun important, to you both I think. The Community, Foundation, and. What they, have been able to accomplish speaks for itself and. I'm. Proud to, be able to be. Involved with the Community Foundation, and. It's. Something. That I've known. About for years. But. Only recently, been involved in, is. An, organization. That. Has. Helped us North Country in many many ways, our. Home our, home towns and again. It's through. The philanthropic efforts. Of people. That, may. Not be hurting anymore, passed. On or. In. Many. Cases people that it that. Our hair day to day and. Donate. From their working lives things. That they're able to do it's. It's a great organization and. Frank, said in fact it was part of this interview that one of the words he used was perseverance. And. I, we had a previous conversation I, asked if there was a word that you. Know fit, or we've described, him pretty well he mentioned the same thing if, I could ask you to share, a couple of other words that might describe, Frank, best. What. Would you say, hmm. Very. Honest. What. You see is what you get, he's very, much. Part. Of the community and. If. You need help he's there, at. The same time. Shared. This journey with Anne for more. Than half a century. What. Would be a couple of words Frank that you would use to describe your. Wife. Dedicated. I. Have. To also say perseverance. It's. Not. That it's a favorite word but. She stuck, with me for 51, years and. It wasn't always easy don't do that. And. Just confirm it was 52 years now. It's, been an amazing amazing. Journey for you both how. Important, I've just to kind of wrap up with, the interview here how important, is it to. Educate. The future generations, we talked about this a little bit but not just about the importance of philanthropy, but just giving. Back whether it's a monetary. Gift in the offering plate or it's, volunteering, an hour to help someplace, else how important is it to educate young people about, supporting. Your community in any way, without. Educating, the young people, and. Showing. Them what. Can be accomplished. That. They'll not. Have the interests in the north country that we have today, it's. It's, imperative, that, we. Spend. Time with them set. Examples, for them, correct. Them on the, do. Wrong and. Our. Future depends on them and you, know my. Grandfather, was concerned, about the next generation, my. Father was concerned about the next generation.
I'm. Concerned, about the next generation, but. Somehow, each. Generation. Manages. To do better than the previous generation, and I expect that this is true in this case as well, well. Franken and thank you for, investing. In northern. New York the way that you have if it's a business if it's personally, or, as it's part of your family. Being. Able to find innumerable. Ways to make this community better is something that we I can say are, truly, grateful for thank. You for setting such a good example that, the, next generation, will hopefully, be able to achieve and strive for we. Appreciate you all so just coming on the podcast and sharing your story with us oh good. Thank, you thanks. For tuning in to another edition, of the northern New York Community podcast. We, are grateful to our sponsors, W PB s DT, and the northern New York Community Foundation, for making this podcast, possible, remember. Each interview can be downloaded, for free anytime, on your mobile device or, you may listen online type. In northern New York community, podcast, when you search for us on iTunes. Stitcher, Google. Play or other podcast, platforms. Also. Check out our website featuring, interview highlight transcripts. Photo, galleries, and much more just. Go to. WWN. NYC. Podcast.com. We. Appreciate, Franken and Keene for their time and sharing their story in perspective, and thanks, again to all of you for joining us on the northern New York Community podcast. Northern. New york community podcasts. Stories. From the heart of our community.