Bruce Frank was a great friend to residents of the north metro suburbs of Anoka and Coon Rapids, where he spent a lifetime as a champion for children and an advocate for the community.

He sold toothbrushes and slices of pie, flipped pancakes and used his extensive network of contacts to help raise more than $3.7 million over 50 years to send nearly 5,600 kids to college. He did that through the Coon Rapids Scholarship Association, an organization he helped found.

Frank was the first executive director of the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation from 1993 to 2004; a member of the local Shriners, Lions and Rotary clubs, and was twice president of the Anoka Kiwanis. He led the club’s meeting a week before he died on Jan. 7. He was 77.

“He had a deep care for kids and a belief in the community,” said Tess DeGeest, current executive director of the foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anoka-Hennepin School District. “He brought in dollars to the cause to do greater good for the community. He ... cared about the community and kids. He valued taking care of each other.”

Frank, of Coon Rapids, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1962, and the following year opened Consumers Loan and Discount Co. in the Coon Rapids Shopping Center.

Both inside and outside the office, he lived his life mission of making things better for people, said Frank’s nephew, Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein, when giving his uncle’s eulogy during services Jan. 10.

Frank staffed booths at the annual Anoka County Fair, served as co-chairman of the Anoka Halloween Committee, and was past president of the Coon Rapids Chamber of Commerce and the Anoka division of the American Heart Association. He made it a Thanksgiving tradition to serve dinner to those in need at the Anoka Armory, said Debbie Koffski, assistant to the superintendent in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“It was amazing the work he has done and all the hours of creative fundraising,” she said. “He recruited everybody he knew, and they were encouraged to join him. That was part of his gift.”

Frank was rarely far from any civic endeavor in Anoka or Coon Rapids, and he never missed a Kiwanis meeting, logging 28 years of perfect attendance. During that time he was active in the club’s Christmas project and recruited 19 new members to the club, more than any other member, said club member Diane Henning.

“He had an upbeat spirit and always said, ‘We can do this,’ ” she said. “He was always ready to give a helping hand to any project.”

Frank was an avid sports fan and coached several youth and neighborhood sports teams. In the 1980s he became the voice of sports teams from Anoka, Coon Rapids and surrounding high schools as general manager and play-by-play announcer at the former KANO-AM radio. He introduced a weekly talk show called “Coffee With the Coaches” and later took it with him to cable TV, where the widely viewed show aired on Quad Cities Community Television.

“He was so good at interviewing athletes,” said Dave Nelson, the head football coach at Minnetonka High School, who frequently appeared on the show when he coached at Blaine High School. “He was a special guy. He ran [the shows] for 30 years and he never missed a beat.”

Frank was inducted into the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in 1995. Nelson nominated him.

Frank also worked to provide camp scholarships to youth at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.

Frank is survived by a sister, Nancy Goldstein, and a brother, Neal.