Henry Frnka

Henry Frnka – Lubbock High School Alumnus

Henry Frnka was one of many Austin College graduates to venture into coaching after graduation. At Lubbock High he established himself as an influential figure, winning state championship at Greenville in 1933.

After spending several years coaching at Tulsa, Frnka moved on to Tulane where he helped turn around its faltering program and earned himself an overall college football record of 71-32-5.

Early Life and Education

Henry Frnka was born in Vox Populi, near Garwood and was the son of Frank and Frances Horak Frnka. In 1924 he married Hilda Class in Nada; unfortunately she predeceased him. Henry worked as both a farmer and rancher as well as being an avid sportsman.

Frnka first took the reigns at Tulsa as head coach in 1941 and guided them to five consecutive winning seasons, featuring appearances in both Sugar and Orange Bowls. From there he was recruited by Tulane University to turn around their underperforming program.

His college football record stood at 71-32-5. Among his survivors are two sons – Meteor N. Frnka of Austin and Earl Joe Frnka of Columbus; six daughters including Mrs Otto Georg of Columbus and A. O. Pridgen of Columbus as well as twin daughters Ruby and Roxie Frnka from Houston as well as many grandchildren and friends.

Professional Career

Frnka played on Texas State’s Vernon McDonald men’s basketball team as a reserve and averaged 8.6 points per game off the bench. Additionally, Frnka has become an active member of Eagle Lake community where he operates his printing business and serves on boards for both chambers of commerce and libraries.

Frnka earned his Bachelor’s in education from Austin College and immediately entered coaching professionally, turning Lubbock High into an athletic powerhouse and Greenville to a state title in 1933. From there he went on to coach at Florida and Tulsa before ultimately leaving Tulane University after becoming disenchanted with its increasing emphasis on money in athletics after World War II and accepting an administrative position back at Austin College he once called home.

Achievement and Honors

Frnka was also an active civic and business leader. He served the Vox Populi and Garwood communities, the American Legion post, three Knights of Columbus councils, as a charter member of Garwood Lions Club and as president of its local chapter of American Red Cross.

Er was instrumental in leading the College to win its conference championship and defeat Baylor, an outcome many consider one of the great football upsets of all time. Additionally, he helped make sure five consecutive New Year’s Day bowl games from 1941-5 were hosted by his squad.

Frnka was in charge of recruiting during World War II and took an avid interest in one of the nation’s premier players, RB Charley Trippi. As such, he extended an offer for Hardy to attend college – the rest is history!

Personal Life

Frnka was a lifelong resident of Colorado County. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nada and, later in his life, helped publish Eagle Lake Headlight newspaper. Additionally, he established a commercial printing business.

He was one of the pioneers and early developers of Vox Populi (now Garwood) section in County. Along with his wife, they were among the very first settlers in this thriving part of community.

He was an outstanding sportsman with a love of the outdoors, possessing great skill in ranching and rice farming as well as owning cattle, participating in rodeo events, horseback riding activities and rodeo competitions. Married to Sylvia Dittrich of Liberty, Meteor and Earl Joe Frnka of Austin were his two sons with six daughters (Mrs Otto Georg of Columbus and Mrs Evelyn Pridgen from Columbus; Mrs Fred Frnka of Hillje; Ruby and Roxie Frnka from Rosenberg).

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