In Memoriam – Frank Vanderhallen (Mike)
We recently received the exceptionally sad news that our friend from Belgium, Frank Vanderhallen, passed away earlier this week. We only knew Frank for a single evening in Antwerp, but in our few hours with Frank, he showed us nothing but the most sincere kindness, hospitality, and generosity. We met Frank at a great jazz bar in Antwerp, and, as we asked him about his interest in music, Frank started buying us drinks and telling us all about his country and city. Over the next several hours, we talked about music, politics, Belgian beers, and Spain, where Frank owned a vacation apartment in the Canary Islands. He was a complete gentleman the entire time and it was a delight to speak with him.
During our conversation, Frank told us that he was extremely shy at times and that he sometimes had difficulty reaching out to other people. Although he was a little shy at first, we reassured our new friend Frank that he was doing just fine – after all, he had just managed to connect perfectly well with total strangers from America. He seemed happy about that. After the jazz show ended, Frank – being the great guy he was – offered to take us on a walking tour of downtown Antwerp and pointed out all of the most interesting sights. Along the way, he showed a passion for his home city and a fantastic sense of humor – cracking us up several times on our mini-tour. We finally parted ways with hugs from our new friend and with promises to try to visit each other in Spain sometime soon. We enjoyed our time with Frank so much that we wrote about him on our blog a few days later as an example of how the people of Belgium are so wonderfully friendly.
Frank, we only knew you for a few hours, but you made a big impression on us in that little time and you will be greatly missed. To Frank’s family, we are so sorry for this tragic loss and please knew that we grieve alongside you. When you travel, you expose yourself to the best and the worst of humanity, and Frank represented the absolute best. He was one of the truly good guys, and we only hope that he is now at peace. We will do our best to honor his memory by treating travelers that we meet with the same respect, kindness, and sincerity that Frank showed to us. If we all followed his example in this regard, the world would be a better place.
Thanks for the beers and the tour Frank, we will never forget you!