Hill-Murray, archdiocese lose ‘Mr. A’

January 15, 2015

General

Deacon Frank AsenbrennerThe green-jacketed band director and principal who was widely recognized as the personification of Hill-Murray High School, Deacon Francis “Frank” Asenbrenner, died Dec. 31, 2014. He was 81.

Hill-Murray faculty, coaches, students and alums filled Assumption Church in St. Paul for his Mass of Christian Burial Jan. 5.

Among them was Theresa Goerke, long-time physics and sciences teacher, one of the many teachers Asenbrenner hired during his 30 years as the principal of first Archbishop Murray Memorial High School and soon after, the first principal of the combined Hill-Murray High.

“His enthusiasm was incredible,” Goerke said. “He made everybody feel special.

“He led the music for the school theater productions, and to begin the performance he always came out to welcome everyone,” she recalled. “He made you feel as though they did the production just for you.’

Asenbrenner was born Aug. 27, 1933, in Leopolis, Wis. He graduated from the then College of St. Thomas with a degree in music education, later earning graduate degrees in both music and education administration.

He was principal of Hill-Murray and became chaplain there as well when he was ordained a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1978, a member of just the second diaconate class of in the archdiocese. He served as a deacon at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul, and for a short time was parish life administrator there when the parish was between pastors.

The Asenbrenner family’s parish was St. Rose of Lima in Roseville, where Deacon Asenbrenner was active as a choir director.

Goerke said the man known throughout Hill-Murray as “Mr. A” had high academic standards; music, though, was his passion.

He taught music and directed the school marching band, choir and orchestra, and scheduled performances for the band to take trips to play in DisneyWorld, in parades on the East Coast and in local parades.

“He made it fun,” Goerke said. “The band gave the school a sense of community. The school was proud of the band. Students called him Mr. A. out of love.”

Don Regan, chairman of Premier Banks, sent seven children to Hill-Murray and recalled spending a lot of time with him.

“He was a great people person, just an outstanding individual,” Regan said. “He really looked after his students.”

Deacon Asenbrenner was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Margaret. He is survived by their eight children — Jim Asenbrenner, Mary Zimmer, Jean Liss, Kathy Aziz, Tom Asenbrenner, Sue Eichten, Barb Atkinson and Peg Sutherland — and their spouses and 16 grandchildren.

Interment was in Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville.

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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