E. Eugene Frock, 74, popular Carroll caterer

September 20, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

E. Eugene Frock, a caterer and musician who operated Frock's Sunnybrook Farm for more than 30 years, died Tuesday of a ruptured aortic aneurysm at Carroll Hospital Center. The Westminster native was 74.

Gene Frock, as he was known, took over the family business in 1964 and expanded what had started in the 1930s as a swimming hole into a full-scale banquet facility.

Lenders were skeptical that he could fill the banquet room that could hold more than 600, Mr. Frock told The Sun in 1997 as he prepared to retire and sell the 20-acre property near Westminster's business district.

But the cavernous hall booked so readily with weddings, political gatherings, reunions, association events and more that few people in the area could say that they did not know him or had not been there.

Once the largest banquet hall between Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pa., Frock's became a home for many service clubs and, for 19 years until its closing, the Carroll Players theater group.

Clad in a long white apron, Mr. Frock did the cooking - fried shrimp, roast beef, pies and other home-style foods.

"His main thing he was known for was his hush puppies - corn fritters," said a daughter, Bonnie Lusby of Finksburg, who said she is regularly asked for her father's recipe.

"He wasn't one for measuring," she said.

He circulated among guests, talking about politics, entertainment - he played trumpet - and stocks.

Mr. Frock grew up in the family business started by his father. He graduated from Westminster High School in 1946 and went to work in sales for C.O. Fishpaw Co. in Westminster.

At 14, he formed a jazz band, and after graduation the Gene Frock Orchestra played jazz and big band music at his parents' business, and throughout the Baltimore area and in Pennsylvania. He also played with big name bands, including Duke Ellington's and Glenn Miller's.

He began devoting increasing amounts of time to the family business, and, in 1964, quit working in sales to take it over.

He was involved in many Westminster organizations.

He was a member of the Masons' Door to Virtue Lodge No. 46, Western Maryland Shrine Club, Boumi Temple, Scottish Rite and Knights Templar.

He also was a member of Westminster Elks and Moose lodges and a charter member of the local Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie. He was a member of Molleville Farm Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 467, and a life member of the Carroll County Farm Museum.

He was a member of St. Paul's United Church of Christ.

Mr. Frock enjoyed traveling and playing in blackjack tournaments in Las Vegas.

Services were held Saturday.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, Kevin E. Frock of Westminster and Lynn E. Frock of Mesquite, Texas; a sister, Erma F. Groft of Westminster; and five grandchildren.

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