Col. Frank Underwood Sr. is a product of rural Ohio. Frank Underwood Sr. had high ambitions upbringing. Earning a college degree was his goal and ticket to a more productive life than his home community offered. Realizing that his family could not afford to send him to college, he diligently worked at developing his athletic skills in hopes of earning a college scholarship. In doing so, he earned a record number of varsity letters in high school. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, provided him a football scholarship, making him one of the first two Black students to receive athletic scholarships at the institution.
While in college, he earned a commission as a 2nd LT in the U.S. Army, in addition to a Bachelor of Science in Commerce. His military schooling included successful completion of Airborne and Ranger courses, Infantry Officers Basics course, Command and General Staff College, (after which he earned a master’s degree in political science at Kansas State University), and the Army War College.
Throughout his Army career, his assignments ranged from infantry platoon leader to Chief of Staff of the Tank Automotive Command, Detroit, Michigan, Director of the Army’s Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Program at the Pentagon, and Professor of Military Science at Virginia State University.
After retiring from the Army, Colonel Underwood continued serving through his membership on the Foundation Boards at Ohio University (first Black elected to that board); John Tyler Community College and Richard Bland College. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Virginia Film Institute. He also is an active member of the Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated, The Virginia State Military Alumni Chapter, and the Petersburg Chapter of the 555th Parachute Infantry Association Inc. One of his most satisfying responsibilities is teaching a Sunday school class at Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia and serving as a managing director at Flavor News.
Among awards he received since his army retirement is the Medal of Merit, one of the highest honors bestowed on a graduate of Ohio University. He was the first Black graduate inducted into the Ohio University ROTC Hall of Fame.
Colonel Underwood has been happily married to Marilyn for fifty-two-years. They are the proud parents of Frank Jr. Blair, Marlo, and Mellisa.