MISSOULA – On Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, our community lost an outstanding individual. Frank Tabish died peacefully at his home after a brief, but courageous fight with cancer. He was 77 years old.
Frank was born Dec. 30, 1937, to Florence and Stranger Tabish, who were Lebanese immigrants and whose families made it from the old country over to America and ultimately to Missoula. By the very young age of 5, Frank and his brother George were thrust into working on their family farm. This was their first full-time job. The farm was located at the current location of Walmart, on the corner of Reserve and Mullan Road. The two boys worked harder at 5 and 9 years old than most adults do today. Needless to say, their work ethic was established at a very young age.
Frank was educated in the Catholic school system. In 1956, he graduated from Loyola Sacred Heart. He was very proud of the fact that his class was the first four-year graduating class to come out of Loyola. While working on the farm and getting ready to graduate, Frank also worked at Safeway as the produce manager. He was offered to manage a store of his own, but ultimately turned that down. Frank also had a brief stint as a clothing salesman for his uncle's clothing store in Butte.
In 1958, Frank sold his immaculate Chevy car and purchased a service station on the corner of Broadway and Russell with his brother, George. It was aptly named Tabish Bros. Mobil Service. The Tabish Bros. set the standard when it came to cleanliness, friendliness and exceptional service! Their work discipline and attention to detail was second to none. By 1966, Frank and George had the opportunity to purchase Zadra Oil, which was their gas and oil distributor for eight years. Tabish Bros. Distributors was formed. Frank and George worked very hard in both businesses and thrived in the '60s, '70s and '80s. They supplied many lumber and pulp mills as well as a few large mines in Idaho with petroleum products. At one time, Mobil Oil had recognized them as being one of the top distributors in the whole Northwest. As the '90s approached, the timber industry started to dwindle due to environmental studies beyond their control.
The Tabish Bros. changed their focus to retail. This included supplying convenience stores with petroleum products. They purchased their first store in 1992. In 1993, Frank’s son Greg graduated from college and came to work on a full-time basis. In 1994, George retired, leaving Frank and Greg to run the business. In the 21 years since, the father-son duo purchased two additional wholesale distributorships and have built and acquired several retail businesses. In 2001, they became Great Western Petroleum, supplying over 40 convenience stores and quick lubes as well as hundreds of small businesses and government entities in need of gas, diesel, jet fuel and various oil products.
Frank was a pillar in the community. His philanthropy was something he was very proud of. He donated to dozens of charities and causes on a yearly basis. He donated both his time and money to organizations such as the YMCA, Missoula Symphony, Providence Montana Health Foundation, St. Patrick House, Loyola High School, St. Anthony Church's Community Center, St. Francis, Frenchtown High School, Big Sky High School, Special Olympics, Camp Make a Wish/Dream and Opportunity Resources, to mention few. Frank was especially proud of donating all of the fuel that was needed to build Washington Grizzly Stadium. Frank was also the first to donate money for locker No. 1 at the new $14 million Washington-Grizzly Champions Center! When Frank wasn’t working and donating his time and resources to worthy causes, he loved traveling abroad with Conoco, which was and is Great Western Petroleum’s main supplier. Frank loved spending time with his children and grandchildren and watching their many sporting events. He also enjoyed spending time at Flathead Lake, and buying and driving fast cars and boats. Most importantly, Frank loved his family. His love, kindness and fierce loyalty were unquestioned. He was a man of impeccable character, morals, principles and integrity. He will be missed!
Frank was preceded in death by his father Stranger, mother Florence and young son Patrick as well as many aunts and uncles. Survivors include his incredible wife, Lani; sons, Frank A., Rick and Greg; his brother, George; uncle, Eli; grandchildren, Amanda, Erin, Kyle, Jake, Brady and Carson; as well as many cousins.
Viewing will be 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at Garden City Funeral Home with the Vigil will follow. The funeral will be a St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9. A reception and celebration will follow immediately after at Canyon River Golf Course. A private family burial will commence after the reception at St. Mary's Cemetery. Pallbearers are George Tabish, Frank A. Tabish, Rick (Crystal) Tabish, Greg (Jennifer) Tabish, Jake Tabish, Brady Tabish and Kyle Jackson.
The family would like to give a special thank you to Partners Hospice of Missoula and all other caregivers for the support they received. Garden City Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Messages of condolences may be sent to missoulafuneralhomes.com.