In Memory

Franklin Wood

Franklin Wood



 
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09/05/10 04:49 PM #1    

Art Thompson

 

A Tribute in Memory of Franklin Howard Wood
From:  Art Thompson, 5 September 2010
 
          Frank was a good friend; and on the occasion of our 50th high school reunion, I feel compelled to give some account of his life on his behalf. 
 
          I met Frank in the 10th or 11th grade in Typing I. I don’t know why Frank chose to take this course, but I know he was impressed by the fact that there were only five boys amid 20 or 25 girls! In fact, he was so impressed that he stayed for Typing II, where he was the only boy in the class! It turned out that the skill he took away from those courses served him very well. After graduation, I went off to the Army; and Frank went off to Edinboro State Teachers College. But by January 1962, when I was assigned to Fort G. G. Meade, Maryland; Frank already was in the Washington, D.C. area. He was using that typing skill to work in a prominent copy preparation firm in downtown Washington a couple of blocks from the White House. He was self-sufficient, living downtown in a residential hotel, without a car. I arrived with a car, and a strong desire to get away from barracks life on the weekends. It was a good match for two young, naive bachelors in what was a pretty good party town in those days. We did some foolish things, but we never got into any real trouble; and we made a lot of memories that we continued to laugh about and embellish right up to his death. After the Army, I soon returned to Washington. Frank was progressing in his work, and we continued to run around together and make weekend trips “home” to Meadville when we could. We both soon met our wives to be – Frank’s Evelyn had come from Tennessee. They eventually had two children – Terry and Kelly - and bought a house in Rockville, Maryland. I believe Evelyn still lives there, Terry and his former wife and children live in Florida, and Kelly and her husband live in Maine.
 
          Through the 70’s and 80’s, Frank transitioned into independent contracting. Months or even years might go by between us getting together, but every time we did, it seemed he had a new “typewriter” – a $25,000 or $30,000 machine that filled a room. Frank could do amazing things with such machines, and he did them very quickly and very accurately. He obviously worked hard and seemed to provide well for his family, but technology still stayed ahead of him. In the years leading up to his last illness, he worked for a publisher in Rockville – by all accounts, at data entry he could outperform any two of the other workers!
 
          Frank was a voracious reader. He lived modestly for the most part, but he liked having the latest gadgets, too. And he was always looking for a great deal! He became a master at taking advantage of a sales promotion without falling for the “bait.”  For a long period, he had a nice boat which he used on the Chesapeake Bay. The family traveled a lot, including visits to Britain where we shared some additional remarkable adventures.
 
          Frank obviously intended to enjoy life to the fullest. Some who met him might have never seen beyond a flamboyant, boisterous side. But a little deeper down, Frank was profoundly gentle and kind-hearted. He could grotesquely condemn half the world in a single sentence, but he virtually never said anything negative about any individual. He approached life with a sense of humor and irreverence. For example, my wife was in what happened to be an Adventist hospital, meaning no meat on the tray – and Frank arrived with a smuggled hamburger and champagne to go with it! And he stayed, standing guard to make sure she had a chance to enjoy it! Frank was a gracious host, and a generous friend. He always found a rationalization for supporting you no matter what crisis you might have created for yourself, and he was resourceful in offering encouragement. An invitation to his house always meant a thoroughly relaxing time. He prided himself in his bartending skills, and he would use his exceptional home-canned tomato juice to serve a quart-size Bloody Mary that was the very best!
 
          Apparently some years before 2002, Frank had a bout with cancer that he kept pretty much to himself. But at age 59, it was back with a vengeance. He spent time in hospice, but eventually he died at home a few weeks short of his 60th birthday. Those attending his funeral in Rockville had to “dodge” the “D.C. Sniper(s),” who was shooting up the area at the time. But Frank’s wishes were fulfilled - to be laid out in a simple pine box, and for his ashes eventually to be spread at the family hunting camp in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains
 
          I didn’t see Frank all that often, but I miss him very much. He was a comforting and loyal friend for the “long-haul,” and he was always fun to be around. I am lucky because Frank was about as good a friend as a person can have.

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