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Published: Tuesday, 7/19/2005

Dana manager was immigrant from Venezuela

Francisco Jose "Frank" Bracho, a former Dana manager in Venezuela who later became a U.S. citizen, died of heart failure Saturday at his home in Holland. He was 61.

A native of Venezuela, Mr. Bracho was a natural engineer who loved people, his wife, Laura, said.

"He was quite an aficionado of cars," his wife said.

She said Mr. Bracho's charisma and ability to deal with people made him a good manager.

"He was best as a manager," his wife said. "That was where he really shone."

Mr. Bracho went to college in Indiana and then returned to Venezuela, becoming a manager for the Ford Motor Co. by the time he was 28. After 10 years with Ford, he worked for Dana Corp. as a vice president for 12 years.

In 1990 Dana offered him a transfer to the United States, and the family moved to Fort Wayne, where Mr. Bracho worked as an engineer.

Although some saw that as a step down in his career, Mr. Bracho thought it more important for his children, then 20, 14, and 7, to be safe and to have the opportunity to get a good education, his wife said.

Mrs. Bracho said Venezuela's economy and political problems had made the country a dangerous place to live. The family's youngest child had been followed and the oldest's university had been bombed.

The family also hired a guard to watch their house 24 hours a day.

"We realized we had to leave," Mrs. Bracho said. "The children were in danger of being kidnapped."

Mr. Bracho became a U.S. citizen about 10 years ago.

About three years ago, Dana transferred him to the Toledo area.

Born in Venezuela on Jan. 1, 1944, Mr. Bracho first moved to the United States for college, receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne in 1968.

He enjoyed dancing and traveling, especially meeting new people all over the world, his wife said.

He was a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

Surviving are his wife of 37 years, Laura; daughter, Lucy; sons, Gregory and David; mother; Maria Luisa Bracho; sisters, Terry Otahola, Kandy Santos, Laury Bracho, Ivon Riera, and Dilcia Riera; brothers, Lino, Edgar, and Oscar Bracho and David Tablante; and one grandson.

The body will be in the Wisniewski Funeral Home after 2 p.m. today with a scripture service at 7 p.m.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

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