Frank Shankwitz, an Arizona Highway Patrol officer who helped fulfill the last wishes of terminally ill children through his charitable foundation, died Jan. 24 at his home in Prescott, Arizona. He was 77 years old. His wife, Kitty Shankwitz, said the cause was esophageal cancer.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation has received great support from Hollywood, from Disney arranging trips to Disneyland to movie stars meeting and greeting children. It all started with Shankwitz’s vision after a special meeting.
Shankwitz was on patrol in April 1980 when he was alerted to a young boy who wanted to be a motorcycle officer when he was growing up. The child had terminal leukemia. Shankwitz’s visit made the child’s last wish come true.
After that, Shankwitz realized that he could help other children with their latest requests. He and five other people founded the Make-a-Wish Foundation in 1980. It has grown into a national organization with 64 chapters across the country.
Shankwitz never took a salary from Make-a-Wish and resigned his post as president in 1984. He remained an active-duty Arizona state soldier until 1996 and then worked for the State Department of Motor Vehicles. He received the President’s Call to Service award twice and was highlighted in the 2019 biopic, Wish Man.
Survivors include his wife, Kitty; two daughters, Christine Chester and Denise Partlow; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.