By Lora Abernathy
Though Frank Grasso III had been patronizing his future wife’s hair shop for a year and a half, they hadn’t yet met. When they finally did and things got serious, he made his intentions clear: He wasn’t interested in marriage or in having kids.
Frank has now been married for 20 years and is the proud father of two.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Frank was born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, but grew up Pequannock, New Jersey — 20 minutes from New York City.
With a suitcase in one hand and a guitar in the other, he left home when he was 19 and hitchhiked around the country, visiting friends who had also left New Jersey.
He lived in Austin, Texas, for a while, then New Orleans and finally settled in Atlanta, where he lived for 25 years — and where he met Tracy.
Both of their kids were born in Atlanta, but they wanted to be closer to family. They picked up their lives in one of America’s most bustling cities and moved to the quiet hills of Portsmouth, where Tracy is from.
Frank said he feels part of the Portsmouth community. During the day, he is a field safety specialist for Grainger. When he’s not working, he’s usually playing music somewhere around town.
The Grassos live on five acres of land.
“Enough for us,” Frank said.
“I think my kids grew up with a sense of the outdoors, so in the winter they did sledding and in the summer they did ATVs. They had a diversified physical experience living here,” he said.
“I love that my kids grew up in an atmosphere that was digestible to them,” Frank said. “It was small enough that they had a tight circle of friends, a sense of a community. … The results of this are amazing from my children. They’re really incredible people.”
Michael is in his sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati in pre-med. Abigail is a freshman at Rio Grande University on a dual scholarship for volleyball and art.
As an example of his kids’ good nature, last Christmas, they gave him a frame with a collage of photos of their family taken over the last 20 years. In the middle was this quote: “I never want to get married and I don’t want children.” It was signed, “Dad.”
“It made me cry,” Frank said. “I’m looking at this frame and then because the pictures draw you in and then you read the middle and go, ‘Geez.’ It was really great, because I wouldn’t have wound up here without meeting (Tracy). This is why I’m here.”