A Warren County historian has passed away, but his legacy lives on.
Frank Dale, 91, passed away earlier this month in Florida, where he had recently moved, but his heart remains in Warren County, on which he wrote a series of 36 historical booklets as well as three full-length books about the Delaware River.
His writings on the rich history of the area garnered quite a bit of attention and was even mentioned by prolific non-fiction author Bill Bryson in his book, “A Walk in the Woods,” about the Appalachian Trail. Bryson’s book was later turned into a movie.
Dale’s work can be found throughout the area, but Belvidere’s Warren County Library, at which he could often be found doing research, and Warren County Historical Society hold the entire collection. Dale’s family invites donations made in his name to be made to the Historical Society.
He didn’t settle into Warren County right away. A native of Millburn, he first served in WWII, in which he carried the large Browning Automatic Rifle because of his 6’4” height, was promoted to Corporal, and earned a Bronze star, and then taught school and had a career in business before becoming an expert on Warren.
In 1981, at the age of 55, he began to write bit pieces for magazines and newspapers about Warren County, New Jersey history, and outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, and biking. Eventually he would be published in major nationwide publications and be recognized with two writing awards.
He brought attention to the area on a local and national level. He was interviewed several times on PBS stations and engaged by private groups for educational presentations on the Delaware and the surrounding area.
In part for his work on the history of the area, Dale was inducted into the Hackettstown Area Senior Hall of Fame.
Frank was well-known in the area for his vast knowledge, easy personality, and humor.
He would say of his life as a historical writer, “All in all, I’m busier, happier, healthier, and financially poorer than I’ve ever been before…three out of four ain’t bad!”
Though he learned to “do battle with” modern day computers to make the writing and publishing process more streamlined, he always had a soft spot for his antique Royal typewriter.
Frank Dale’s time on earth may have ended, but he has become an integral part of the Warren County history he so much enjoyed recording.
He leaves behind his wife, Diana, a son, two stepchildren, several grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a county full of friends and admirers.