Many who consider themselves versed in Green Bay Packers history probably don’t know much about Frank Jonet. His grandson, Bob, has a story to get things started.
Bob Jonet recalled going to Rockwood Lodge, the Packers’ training camp facility in the late 1940s, with his grandfather and meeting Curly Lambeau for the first time.
“I was awestruck at that meeting,” Bob Jonet said in a conference call with reporters when his grandfather’s induction was announced last winter. “I was struck by the way Curly was most courteous and respectful toward grandpa. It was obvious Curly had a lot of respect and admiration for grandpa. I’ve never forgotten that.”
Lambeau had every reason to treat Frank Jonet the way he did, and it would be no surprise to the Packers’ co-founder that Jonet (pronounced JAHN-et) is going into the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Jonet’s impact on the franchise goes back to its founding, and here’s a synopsis:
In 1919, he was office manager for the Indian Packing Company, the team’s sponsor.
In 1920, he helped plan the building of a fence around Hagemeister Park, which allowed the team to charge admission and improve its finances.
In the early 1930s, he steered the team through bankruptcy, brought on when a fan fell from the stadium bleachers and sued the club.
In 1935, he was named treasurer and was then elected to serve as secretary-treasurer in 1941.
In 1950, he helped spearhead a stock drive that saved the franchise once again, just a year before his death in 1951.
Cliff Christl, a member of the Packers Hall of Fame nominating committee, brought the group’s attention to Jonet and then proceeded to conduct more research to support his induction. He said Jonet was probably the most responsible for getting the Packers through that dark period in the early 1930s.
Christl found the numerical details of the bankruptcy somewhat sketchy, but the challenge facing Jonet was clear. With the Packers about to go into receivership, Jonet – appointed by a local judge as the team’s “friendly receiver” – once said he was given $17.80 in cash to take care of the team’s $15,000 debt. His obituary says it was 64 cents and $10,000 in debt.
“He was probably one of the most influential members of the executive committee the team has ever had,” Christl said.
Alas, the fan falling from the old City Stadium stands didn’t sink the franchise, but Jonet was always wary of that possibility, according to his grandson.
The younger Jonet, who sold programs and helped shovel snow for the 1949 Thanksgiving intra-squad game, remembers on more than one occasion his grandfather walking around the stadium and getting concerned if there was a particularly rowdy crowd at a game.
“If people would stamp their feet and so forth, it was necessary to watch the beams under the stands,” Bob Jonet said. “Grandpa was always hoping, and I’m sure doing a little praying, that we wouldn’t have a repetition of the stadium coming apart, so to speak.”
Those wishing to attend Saturday’s Hall of Fame banquet may place their name on a waiting list for tickets.