Frank Dietrich

1924 - 1995

Frank Dietrich, an accomplished singer with an unusually fine tenor voice, sang with the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast's King's Heralds quartet from 1947 to 1949. The son of German parents, who had immigrated to America in 1923, he was born in California the following year. Following his mother's death a short time later, his aunt, Mia Henning, raised him, introducing him to the Seventh-day Adventist message. Eric B. Hare, a noted storyteller and writer of children's stories, baptized him when he was twelve.

By the time Dietrich enrolled at Golden Gate Academy in Berkeley, California, his resonant tenor voice was attracting attention. He teamed up with three other young aspiring singers, Albert Mayes, Victor Merth, and Irvin Lehman, to form a male quartet named Knights of the King. They quickly developed a professional sound under the tutelage of Lon Metcalfe, noted Adventist singer and choir director, who gave them voice lessons and coached them as a group.

When Arthur L. Bietz, pastor of the Berkeley church, started a radio broadcast, their quartet became a regular feature on the program. They sought to emulate the sound of the noted Voice of Prophecy King’s Heralds quartet and quickly became local favorites.

Dietrich completed his senior year in academy at the prep school at Pacific Union College, where fellow quartet member Lehman had enrolled as a college student. By living on the college campus in the boys’ dormitory, he could eat in the cafeteria, and be employed as well, working as a baker in the college cafeteria. At the end of that year, Dietrich enrolled at the college. He was drafted and following service in World War II, returned to PUC to complete a B.A. in elementary education.

When the two other quartet members joined them at PUC, they again sang together, representing the college as a male quartet on numerous special occasions. After finishing college, they remained close friends, periodically getting together to make music as a quartet.

Dietrich joined the VOP King’s Heralds quartet in 1947, where he sang first tenor until 1949.  He enjoyed this musical experience, as well as the extensive traveling and the interaction with many listeners, some of whom became lifelong friends. While singing with the King’s Heralds and living in Glendale, Frank met his future wife, Wilma Allen, who was also working at the VOP while enrolled in a nurse's training program at Glendale Adventist Hospital.  They married in 1948.

Although the remainder of Dietrich's career was spent in education and administration, he sang frequently, the activity for which he was most widely known.  He was invited to sing at the General Conference session in Vienna, Austria, in 1970.

In his career as a teacher and administrator, Dietrich taught Bible, served as a principal and vice-principal at several academies, registrar at Atlantic Union College, and as secretary for youth activities and education for the Nevada-Utah Conference. He served three terms in mission service in Africa, where he was ordained as a minister and served as a pastor, Mission Director, principal of Malamulo College in Malawi, and Acting Director and Secretary of the Southern Union Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He ended his career at Garden State Academy in New Jersey, where he served as Bible teacher, registrar, and vice-principal for three years. When he retired in 1986 at the end of his service at GSA, he returned to California, where he lived until his death nine years later.

Carol Mayes/ds 2007

Frank Dietrich Life Sketch and Eulogy

August 29, 1924 - December 16, 1995

Carol Mayes

Frank Dietrich’s parents and two small children immigrated to America from Germany in 1923.  Frank was born in California on August 29, 1924.  His mother died a few years later, and he was raised by his aunt, Mia Henning, whom Frank affectionately called "Grammia."  She introduced him to the Seventh-day Adventist message, and he was baptized into the church in 1936 at age twelve by Eric B. Hare.

During these years, while residing in an upstairs bedroom across the street from a bar, he began to develop his beautiful tenor voice by sitting in front of an open window and singing hymns and gospel songs to the clients of the bar across the street, perhaps causing them to reconsider the wisdom of their carousing, much to the annoyance of the bartender, whose sales were declining.

As a teenager, Frank attended Golden Gate Academy, an Adventist high school, then located on Alcatraz Street in Berkeley, California. While there, he teamed up with three other young aspiring singers, Albert Mayes, Victor Merth, and Irvin Lehman, to form a male quartet, which they named Knights of the King. With Lon Metcalfe, noted Adventist singer and choir director, as their voice teacher and coach, they soon began sounding quite professional.

They all attended the Berkeley Church, where Dr. Arthur L. Bietz was pastor, and when Dr. Bietz started a radio broadcast, they were invited to become a regular feature on the program. They were soon on their way to becoming local favorites, as they sought to emulate the sound of the noted King’s Heralds, of the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast.

Frank’s home life was rather unstructured at that time, and he would often "crash" for the night with one of his buddies, making himself completely at home. Quartet member Albert Mayes recalled how Frank would shinny up a porch post in the middle of the night to reach their upstairs bedroom window, sliding into bed between him and his brother, Marion, who would wake the next morning to find themselves nearly falling off the bed because Frank had taken the middle. Victor recalls that he thought himself to be a pretty good singer until he heard Frank’s "golden tenor voice," at which time his sense of importance took a back seat.

When Frank reached his last year of high school, he went to Pacific Union College at Angwin, California, to finish his senior year. One of his quartet buddies, Irvin Lehman, had already gone to PUC, so Frank joined him there, enrolling in college after finishing his senior year. By living on campus in the boy’s dormitory, he could eat in the cafeteria, and become employed as well, working as a baker in the college cafeteria. His college education was interrupted, however, when he was drafted during World War II. After his discharge, he returned to PUC and graduated with a BA in elementary education.

When the two other quartet members, Albert and Victor, joined Frank and Irvin at PUC, they again sang together, representing the college as a male quartet on numerous special occasions. Three of the quartet members (Frank, Victor, and Albert) chose to become teachers and spend their lives in the field of education, while Irvin became an Adventist minister. After finishing college, they went their separate ways to follow their respective careers, but always remained close friends and male quartet buddies.

A photograph of them taken as teenagers in 1941 and another at a quartet reunion in 1979 (39 years later) show that, as time and distance permitted (until finally separated by illness and death), they periodically got together again to make music. As much as they enjoyed eating, the pleasure of harmonizing together seemed to outweigh everything else, and when their wives called them to dinner, they were often kept waiting until the food got cold while the quartet finished an intense recording session. No matter how much time had elapsed since they had last been together, their beautiful blend always seemed uninterrupted.

Frank was invited to join the King’s Heralds quartet at the Voice of Prophecy (then in Glendale, California) in 1947, singing first tenor, where he remained until 1949.  In this capacity, Frank was privileged to travel extensively, making new friends wherever he went.

While singing with the King’s Heralds at the Voice of Prophecy and living in Glendale, Frank met his future wife, Wilma Allen, who also worked at the VOP while enrolled in a nurse's training program at Glendale Adventist Hospital.  They married on August 26, 1948, and subsequently had four children: Richard Dietrich, who lives in Tennessee with his wife, Shawn; Michael Dietrich, who lives in Idaho with his wife, Liz; Karen Dietrich, who lives nearby in Idaho; and Kathy Bricky, also a resident of Idaho.

Although the remainder of Frank’s career was spent in education and administration, Frank continued to use his talent in singing for God's glory, a gift for which he was perhaps most widely known.  He was invited to sing at the General Conference session in Vienna, Austria, in 1970.

Frank served the Adventist Church in many capacities during his lifetime. He taught Bible at the Pacific Union College prep school, he was elementary principal at San Diego Academy, taught Bible at Modesto Academy, and then went to Angola, Africa, where he was ordained to the gospel ministry and served as Mission Director and Pastor of the Bongo Mission.  This was the first of three terms of mission service.

Returning from Africa after 6 years, he served as Missionary Volunteer (Youth) and Education Secretary for the Nevada-Utah Conference.  He then became principal of Mountain View Academy in California, and later registrar at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts.

Two more terms of mission service followed:  Principal of Malamulo College in Malawi, Africa, and Acting Director and Secretary of the Southern Union Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The last two schools he served before his retirement in 1986 were Lodi Academy in California, where he was Bible teacher and chaplain, and Garden State Academy in New Jersey, where he was Bible teacher and vice principal for two years, and registrar and vice principal for one year.

Frank often said, especially during the last few years of his life, "I am in good hands" (the Lord’s hands), and he definitely was.  He died peacefully on December 16, 1995, in California.

2007