False Bay RFC bade a sad and unexpected farewell last week to one of its stalwarts and most popular members.
Francois “Frankie” Hechter died suddenly in his home on Sunday night. He was 35. He leaves his beloved wife, Kristie, his daughter Zoe, Mom Babs, Dad Fred and brother Andre.
Frankie played for the False Bay First XV as a centre in the early 2000s. He suffered a serious knee injury which curtailed his playing days. He then threw his efforts into coaching. He was a popular and innovative coach of the False Bay Thirds.
Frank was a committed man in everything he did. Nothing was done in half measures.
He first played soccer as a very young boy, representing Ottery Ferness. According to his then coach, Nicky, he was a slip of a lad, joining as a four year-old and having to play in the Under 6s. He was a talented defender, with a no-nonsense approach. He developed so well that he was entered into the WP U10 trials even though he was only 8 years old (unbeknownst to the selectors). He did not make it that year but he so impressed the selectors that he was chosen the following year for the WP U10 team.
Frankie joined False Bay in 2001 and epitomised the essence of the Club. He always smiled and made friends with everyone, making newcomers feel welcome when they joined. He played with passion which never boiled over into unfairness.
He was kindness personified and made all feel special.
Although Frankie retreated from an active role at False Bay in the late 2000s, it was with good reason. He dedicated himself to the new roles in his life, that of husband to Kristie and father to Zoe, never neglecting his roles as son and brother. At the same time he started a business and was dedicating his innovative passion and effort to making this a success. His colleagues spoke warmly of the positive influence he had in their lives as mentor.
False Bay RFC members will always remember Frank for his impish sense of humour, the perpetual smile on his face and his dedication to and pride in his club. He and Kristie seldom missed a match at Constantia where they avidly supported their club over the last number of years.
The writer worked with Francois at False Bay in a few roles and was always impressed by his commitment and organization. As a player in the First XV, he was a powerful runner at centre, one who broke the line and stood up for the offload. His defence was equally solid.
As Third XV coach, he witnessed his commitment and enthusiasm. Frankie’s practices were always well-organised and interesting, acknowledging that the Third XV was an itinerant team and the personnel changes were the order of the day. He managed to keep these players’ interest high and performing optimally even though they would probably be next to a new player come matchday. All this at the tender age of 27.
But as an observer, the most wonderful role to witness was that of father and husband. True to fashion he embraced both roles emphatically and under his protection and through his love for her, his lovely wife Kristie blossomed in the confidence his love engendered. His pride and love for Zoe was humbling to observe.
Francois will be missed. His wicked sense of humour, his zest for life, his energy and presence will not be there, but he lives on in our memory and hearts.
Rest in Peace Frankie, gone all too soon.
FAREWELL FRANCOIS HECHTOR