Edited by board administrator October 31, 2016, 9:36 am
I am sad to report that I have learned that Fran sailed over that far horizon on April 8, 2016, at the age of 90. After some determined Internet sleuthing, I found that Fran and his late wife had one child, a son, who I was able to contact recently. He said that Fran declined rapidly in March and that in accordance with Franís wishes, ďhe died in his own home, in his own bed, surrounded by his books.Ē
As anyone who has followed this message board over the years knows, Fran was a regular presence. In fact, other than myself and our former webmaster, Tom Bowerman, Fran was the single most prolific poster on the message board. (I just checked: EVERY PAGE of the message board includes messages from Fran, often twenty or more.) Until April he never missed one of our monthly musters, and he generously and cheerfully offered recollections, reflections, advice and even some occasional poetry. Since Fran in his professional life had been a reporter, editor, columnist and author, his postings reflected his love of the language, sharing his thoughts with precision and care. Occasionally he fretted that he posted too often, a notion with which I always strongly disagreed. He and I shared occasional private e-mail communications, and he never failed to support and encourage me, especially when I first became webmaster in 2007. He was a gentleman.
In World War II Fran served in the Armed Guard as a radioman, having enlisted in the Navy on his 17th birthday. Between May 1942 and December 1946, when he was discharged, Fran sailed in four merchant ships and later in two U.S. Navy vessels. His voyages took him to the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and finally the Pacific. He also served in the Korean War, by the end of which he had advanced to radioman first class. After the war he attended Indiana University, married and became a father, and ended up in California before retiring in 1990. You can find brief summaries of Franís wartime experiences at http://www.armed-guard.com/fkent.html and http://www.armed-guard.com/biogk.html (scroll down to his name).
In 1999 he said he first encountered Tom Bowerman via the Internet. Since the end of the war and up to that point, Fran had never met or heard from anyone else who had been in or even knew about the Armed Guard. Although they never met in person, Fran and Tom struck up a close friendship, to the point that Fran would later reminisce that Tom was like a brother to him. As an example both of Franís respect for Tom, and Franís fine touch with the English language, read Franís eulogy for Tom at http://www.armed-guard.com/trb.html.
The already-small community of Armed Guard veterans, family members and friends as found on the Armed Guard message board has lost one more. I will miss Franís presence and his warm and thoughtful words. Thank you, Fran.
Peace be to his memory.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website