The American River Parkway is one of the region’s most important natural and recreational amenities. If riding, walking or paddling along the Parkway is part of what makes the region special for you, you owe a debt of thanks to Frank Cirill, who passed away in January. Frank’s life and memory will be celebrated in Carmichael on Saturday, June 10. The remembrance below was written his daughter Lisa Cirill.
Protector of the Parkway
Frank Cirill, a longtime supporter and partner of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, passed away peacefully of natural causes at the age of 94 earlier this year. A bicycle commuter and race competitor, Frank was known as the “Protector of the American River Parkway”. He devoted his life to preserving the American River Parkway against development threats and ensuring adequate flow in the lower American River.
Frank served as Chief Mate aboard Merchant Marine liberty ships during World War II and throughout the Marshall Plan. He was an engineer and construction estimator from 1950 to 1987. The highlight of his career was serving as chief estimator with Continental Heller Construction and overseeing the $68 million restoration of the State Capitol from 1975 to 1981.
In 1968, Frank began to serve as a board member of the Save the American River Association. He served as SARA’s President from 1978 through 1994 and later as President Emeritus. “For nearly half a century, Frank Cirill did more than any other person to preserve and enhance the Parkway’s ecosystem, wildlife habitat, waterway and recreation resources,” said Stephen Green, SARA President. Frank was a guiding light for the 1976, 1984 and 2006 American River Parkway Plans. For 21 years he successfully fought the East Bay Municipal Utility District from taking American River water from the Folsom South Canal.
Frank was an avid outdoorsman, swimmer, fly fisherman, runner, bicyclist, kayaker and Nordic skier. Among other endeavors, Frank served on the County Parks and Recreation Commission from 1973 to 1978, founded the Sacramento Southside Striders running group in 1975, co-founded the Capitol Nordic Skiers cross-country ski club in 1980, and after designing the original race course, spent decades on the organizing committee as Race Director and Race Director Emeritus of the Eppie’s Great Race. He was that race’s first Ironman in the age 60-plus division and he was a Masters Class Nordic Ski Champion.
Frank continued running 20 miles a week on the Parkway until he was 86. His last voyage on the Pacific was at 88 when he served as a working crew member aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain. Frank then continued to stay fit through the remainder of his life by using a stationary bicycle. A burial at sea near the Golden Gate Bridge from aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien liberty ship was held for his immediate family.
Frank is survived by his wife of 56 years, Doris; his son Curtis Cirillo (Soussan Cirillo), his daughter Lisa Cirill (Kevin Shirley) and three grandchildren. A celebration of Frank Cirill’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2017, along the American River’s edge at the picnic area across from the golf course clubhouse at Ancil Hoffman Park, 6700 Tarshes Drive, Carmichael, CA 95608. Remembrances in his honor can be made to the Save the American River Association at www.sarariverwatch.org/ways_