Frank Loss helped keep Como Zoo free

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2011 - 8:25 PM

He served St. Paul as a police officer, City Council member and park commissioner, among other city jobs.

Como Zoo visitors have former St. Paul Park Commissioner Frank Loss to thank for keeping it open at no charge.

Loss, who also served on the St. Paul Police Department and City Council and who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970, died May 14. He was 93.

Loss' daughter Marge Nelson of Stillwater said her father was "community-minded" his entire life.

When city officials looked for new income in the 1960s, Loss was adamant the zoo should not charge admission.

"He said it had to be kept as a public domain for people," Nelson said.

Loss was born in Phillips, Wis., in 1918 and moved to St. Paul. He spoke only Czech until he entered school. He graduated from Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul in 1936.

Loss married Bertha Patterson the next year, and they raised five children in St. Paul. She died in 2007.

He joined the police department in 1941, taking leaves to work for the city as deputy commissioner of parks and playgrounds in 1952 and deputy finance commissioner in 1954.

In 1960 he was elected to the St. Paul City Council, whose members served double-duty as commissioners. For the next six years, Loss was commissioner of parks, recreation and public buildings.

"He got the swimming pool built in Como Park," said Terry Carroll, a friend of many years.

As commissioner, Loss created St. Paul's first housing code, Nelson said. He also authored the city's human and civil rights ordinance, the first in Minnesota and one of the first in the nation.

In 1970 he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican and lost to incumbent DFLer Joseph Karth. Loss returned to the police force, worked in business and founded the St. Paul Police Retirement Association, where he was president for 13 years.

Carroll, the association's president, said Loss established strong programs for families. "He liked to cook, and when we had our police picnic he always brought his chili, even if it was 100 degrees," Carroll said.

Loss was proud of his Czech heritage and loved to sing with a Czech singing group, said Nelson.

In addition to Nelson, he is survived by children including Patricia of Pine City, Linda of Oakdale, Kathryn of Maplewood and Gregory of White Bear Lake. He is also survived by one sister, Anna Neubauer of Apple Valley, 11 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Services have been held.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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