Alberta Association of Former MLAs

The Frank Appleby Story


Frank Appleby

He worked in sawmills, as a fisheries officer and was an air force officer until he decided to pursue education and became a school teacher. He loved teaching but at
the same time he and his wife operated a farm. He was encouraged to run for election by his school principal and even by a member of an opposing political party.He was elected in his first attempt and served for 15 years before his retirement as an MLA.
Most importantly, he became a centenarian in December 2013.

Not many people live to be 100 years old. One of Alberta’s former MLAs will celebrate
that milestone on December 23, 2013. Frank Appleby is an extraordinary man known for his ability to get along and be respected by everyone.

“I was teaching social studies and English at Edwin Parr High School in Athabasca and was really enjoying it. I had no intention of pursuing a political career although I was impressed by Peter Lougheed—the young man who wanted to be premier. Our school principal, Bob Macgregor and local Liberal Dave Hunter encouraged me to run,” recalls Frank. “I also got a lot of help and encouragement from Peter Lougheed and Hugh Horner.”

Frank Appleby was first elected in 1971 and served until 1986. “When Peter Lougheed stepped down, I thought it was time for me as well,” says Frank.
Frank’s life in Athabasca resulted from adventuresome parents. His dad walked from
Edmonton to Athabasca to look at land and later both mom and dad drove an ox team
(four days) to where they built a home. Perhaps that is where he got his perseverance.

“The highlight of my term as MLA was getting Athabasca University. I remember the Minister of Advanced Education wasn’t convinced but Peter Lougheed stepped in and informed him that it wasn’t a question of “if” but a matter of “when the University would be built in Athabasca,” says Frank. He received an honourary degree from Athabasca University in 2005.

Frank Appleby served as Deputy Speaker from 1979 to 1986 when he retired. “I got along with everyone—it didn’t matter what party they belonged to. I remember that
one day when I was in the Chair a government member was droning on endlessly and
everyone was falling asleep. I sent a note to Walt Buck asking him to do something
about it—and did he ever do it—the boring speech was over. Walt was great at doing things like that.”

Dorothy is still by Frank’s side. They celebrated their 54th anniversary on June 24. When he was at the legislature she managed the farm. “I did all the farming except for
the harvest—Frank did the combining. One day I called Frank and told him the tractor
was stuck. I wanted to know what to do. Frank just said get your brother to help and that was the end of it,” remembers Dorothy.

“The greatest part of being involved with politics was the friends we made,” says Dorothy. “It was so good to meet all the members and their wives. We had a lot of respect of all of them—especially Grant Notley and another great friend, Bill Purdy.”

“Although I am not active like I used to be,” says Frank, “I still am a conservative party
member and I keep informed and I intend to continue staying on top of things.”
“He sure does,” says Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education and MLA Athabasca-Redwater-Sturgeon. “I have learned a lot from Frank and consider him an incredible friend and mentor. He is one of the reasons I am successful as a politician.”

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Orders of the Day.l Frank Appleby passed away May 18, 2015.

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