Skip to main content

Influential founding dean Frank Sackton passes away

February 16, 2010

Former Army Lt. Gen. Frank Sackton, founding dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs, played a vital role in the success of thousands of leaders ranging from Gen. Douglas MacArthur to many of today’s best public servants in the nation.

He died Sunday, Feb. 14, at age 97.

Sackton, who lived in Scottsdale, started his career at ASU in 1976. He was, most recently, a professor emeritus in ASU’s School of Public Affairs where he taught through the fall 2009 semester. During his time at ASU, he also served as special assistant to the university president and as athletic director.

“Frank’s life was emblematic of the spirit of service, from the military to the academy and even to the retirement community in which he spent his final years,” said Debra Friedman, university vice president and dean of the College of Public Programs. “He was a quiet, humble and effective organizer for the good of others, always asking, ‘How can I help?’ ”  

During his 40-year military career, Sackton led a battalion of 550 men in the Pacific during World War II. He was secretary to Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the reconstruction of Japan after the war. 

In the 1970s, he served as special assistant to Arizona Gov. Jack Williams.

“Frank lived many lives – an officer, a scholar, and a gentleman, as the plaque in the School of Public Affairs’ Sackton Room says – but for those of us in the School, he will be remembered as a friend, a mentor and a teacher,” said Robert Denhardt, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs, Regents’ Professor and Lincoln Professor of Leadership and Ethics at ASU.  

“Frank’s hours in the classroom were among his happiest and he always placed the highest value on his teaching," Denhardt said. "But Frank was also a model of a life well-lived. If he were among us right now, I know he would look up and say, as he did every morning, ‘It’s a beautiful day today!’ ”