Frank Spain was born on an ancestral plantation in Brooks County, Georgia, but later moved to Waban, Massachusetts, where he learned to play hockey on frozen ponds. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy prep school and then Dartmouth College, where he majored in philosophy and played baseball and ice hockey as a member of the class of 1934. He left Dartmouth to play for the Boston Olympics, where he was the team captain for the 1933–1934 season. After his amateur ice-hockey career, he served as a naval officer and toured Europe. Following his marriage in 1941, he settled in Rochester, New York, where he began a business and a family.