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Canfield vet finds peace in the backyard

Staff photo / J.T. Whitehouse Frank Micchia, 83, of Canfield, shows off the water lilies that he has been successful at growing in a small pond in his garden paradise.

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CANFIELD — Frank Micchia enjoys retirement in his backyard with a garden 23 years in the making.

After a successful career and a move to Canfield, Micchia and his wife of 50 years, Marcia, were ready to build their own peaceful environment.

Micchia, 83, is a Rayen Class of 1956 graduate who went on to Youngstown University (now YSU), where he studied and earned a degree in engineering. During his years at Youngstown, he also was involved in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

“Back then, we had hundreds in the program,” Micchia said.

After graduating from the university, Micchia was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia to serve in the Army. He spent from 1960 to 1962 at the fort. He served as a battery auxiliary officer in charge of large military cannons.

While he didn’t see any serious action, he did come very close.

“One of the most memorable events was the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962,” he said. “My division (the 2nd Infantry) was alerted to be a part of the invasion of Cuba. We were loaded onto railroad cars to be transported to a port. We had drawn all the ammo the trucks would hold. We had seasick pills and were assigned rifles. Everyone had to make out a will.

“We had practiced invasions, and fortunately it did not happen. But President Kennedy was not kidding. This was a close as the world has come to World War III,” Micchia said.

After serving, he returned to civilian life, married and got a job at General Electric as an engineer.

“I was a quality control engineer and in charge of operational management,” Micchia said.

He continued in that job until he retired in 2001. Prior to retirement, he and Marcia moved into their Canfield home and work began almost immediately to transform the backyard into a garden oasis.

“I had a passion for gardens,” Micchia said. “When we moved into our home, the backyard was nothing but grass. My goal was to make it into a peaceful garden I could go to and relax.”

Micchia said there was no great master plan; it just developed over time. He said his early military training helped him get to where he is now.

“In the Army, I was trained to look at a situation, analyze it and come up with a plan to get the job done,” he said.

For the past 23 years, Micchia has been adding to the garden oasis. He bought one type of hosta, divided it and filled one section of garden bed with it. He added shrubs and rare trees like the Japanese maple. He also grew tulip trees from seed and has one at the back of the property that may be more than 50 feet tall.

He also added a bird bath with a rustic water outlet that keeps the bird bath fresh. Next to the bird bath is a small pond that Micchia rigged a pump to a vintage water pump to help with the water flow.

“I used to have goldfish in the pond, but a large crane kept visiting it and eating all the fish,” Micchia said.

He grew tired of replacing gold fish so he went with water lilies and found success in having them bloom.

Today, Micchia and his wife have a wonderful garden area to relax and listen to the birds. While it is in full use, he said it is not yet finished. He calls it a “23-year project that is not done yet.”

Micchia also has other hobbies that keep him busy, including working with stained glass lamp shades, making wine, baking and making jewelry pieces. He has entered a lot of items into the Canfield Fair over the years and has won a fistful of ribbons, including the Irene Herman award for his violet jelly.

Besides all the hobbies, Micchia still finds time to be active in government and in veterans organizations. He also spends a lot of time reading up on the United States military branches.

In the city of Canfield, he has been active in getting seven charter amendments passed by public vote.

He is a member of American Legion Post 177 and was the member who proposed having veterans parking spaces throughout the city.

“All I did was propose the parking signs, and the legion membership got behind it and got it done,” Micchia said. “As an engineer, you have to be creative to solve problems. I like to be creative and do things whether it is framing as picture, enjoying landscaping, or supporting veterans’ causes.”

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