Frank Love - 2007 Heritage Bridge Recipient

The 2007 Heritage Bridge Award was presented to Frank Love, Jr., long time Cleveland County resident, trumpet player since the 8th grade and ambassador to Big Band Music. Along the way he has been an influence to, and mentor for several generations of musicians. It is for this reason that the Arts Council honored Frank during the Art of Sound Music Festival.

"Frank Love Jr. was born in Lincolnton, N.C., on April 26, 1921, the son of J. Frank Love and Margaret Dover Love. Frank's musical talent came from his mother, who taught piano; but her attempts to teach him to play came to naught because he preferred playing ball to practicing piano.

When Frank was ten years old, his family moved to Saxapahaw. His mother wanted Frank to continue in the Lincolnton schools, so he went to live with his grandmother, Katherine McLean Love, during the school years. When he was in the eighth grade, he decided he wanted to play in the school band, and the band director, S. Ray Lowder, determined he should play the trumpet. In a Shelby Daily Star interview in 1991, he recalled the experience of being introduced to the instrument, saying, “I just fell in love with it.” He remembers learning his first real song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and of playing it while walking home from school. He eventually moved back to the Graham area to be with his parents and continued to play in school bands in Burlington , N.C. His senior year, his family moved back to Shelby, where he played in the high school band and took part in state-wide competitions for high school instrumentalists and vocalists. Frank won in Shelby, beating out Vernon Grady, who Frank calls “one of the best natural musicians I've ever known.” He went on to tie for the state title with Elwood Pierce, his friend from the Burlington High School band.

During his senior year, Frank had the good fortune to be tutored by the great Johnny Best, another Shelby musician, who had played trumpet in some of the most famous big bands of the Big Band Era: Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and others. Best gave Frank his copy of the Arban's Trumpet Method book, which contained much valuable instruction. Also during his senior year, Frank started his own dance band in Shelby called the Melodeers, which played at once-popular spots such as Dortona and the old American Legion building.

In college at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., Frank played in the marching band, the symphony band, and the Citadel Bulldog Orchestra. It was also during these Citadel years that he met his first wife, the late Georgia “Mackie” Keeter Love.

When Frank graduated from the Citadel, he got his diploma on one side of the stage and his military commission and orders to report for duty on the other side. The US was engaged in World War II at that time. After a stint in Ogden, Utah, he was sent to an Air Force base, in the northeast of England, where he was assigned command of the Depot Repair Division of the Base. While there, he encountered old acquaintances from the States, and when he could get away from his duties he played in the 8th Air Force Gremlin Orchestra, which entertained the troops. It was in England that Frank met the legendary Glenn Miller. Some of Miller's musicians sat in with the “Gremlin Orchestra” from time to time. When the war in Europe ended, Frank was sent to San Antonio, Texas, in preparation for redeployment in the Pacific. That redeployment never happened because of Japan 's surrender; Frank was fortunately able to play with another group of excellent musicians in San Antonio.

At the end of the war, Frank returned to civilian life working at the Ora Mill in Shelby. He started the Frank Love Orchestra in its first incarnation; they played on weekends. He wound up working at American and Efird Mills, headquartered in Mount Holly, N.C., eventually working at most of its 14 plants and ending his career in textiles as the company's president. During this time, he played with several bands, including Billy Kanauff; Fleet Green; and Dick Buse's band, the Knights of Music, until 1969, when he concluded that his work and his devotion to seniors' tennis didn't give him enough time for his beloved big band music.

For 15 years he devoted himself to work, his family, and tennis, entering many national senior tournaments. His wife Mackie once joked that even with their happy marriage and two children, she competed with two other “women” in his life: the trumpet and tennis. After much success on the tennis court, often teaming up with Shelby standout Buck Archer. Back problems ended his career as a tournament player.

After Mackie's death in 1982, Frank eventually encountered his high school sweetheart Virginia McMurry Jones at a party. She lost her own husband, Tom Jones, in 1975. After dating for a while, they married, consolidating her household in Shelby and his in Mount Holly and moving into their own home, Pine Hall, on the Cleveland Country Club golf course.

When Frank retired from American and Efird in 1984, his friends presented him with a silver Bach “Stradivarius” trumpet, and he began to play again. After practicing for a while with play-along tapes, he began playing with bands again, practicing for a while with a group at Isothermal College Eventually, however, he began his own orchestra. Cleveland Community College granted them practice space, and the band performed a number of times for the college.

The orchestra has made two CDs; both are available to listen to and to order from the website: The orchestra performs at many events, and a combo is available for smaller venues. They played for the 50 th anniversary of the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington; at a dance club in Galax, Virginia; at anniversary parties at the Carolina Yacht Club; and at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. The Poinsett Hotel in Greenville, S.C., hired the band to play at its reopening, and they have played there many times since. The Oasis Club in Charlotte was also a popular venue for the band for several years. They have played in Uptown Shelby, as well as at events in this area at Belmont and Mount Holly. They furnished music for many weddings, anniversaries, dances, and concerts. Their current rehearsal hall is now the log cabin behind the Love home in Shelby.


2005 Ray Ledford
2006 Horace Scruggs
2007 Frank Love, Jr.
2008 Harold Williamson
2010 David Lee
2010 Myrtle Irvin Green
2011 Dan X. Padgett
2012 Dr. Bobby
2013 Charles Kendrick
2014 David E. Wilson
2015 R. C. Nanney

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