William Daniel "Dan" Franks
William Daniel Franks (Dan) began life in the hospital, then located in Teague, on April 19, 1932. He was the son of Edna Smith of Richland and Ernest Franks of Point Enterprise; the grandson of Lula and Farmer Franks of Point Enterprise. His childhood was spent in Dallas, Sherman and Electra, Texas.
He attended North Texas University majoring in Psychology. It was there he met Neoma Sue Wiggins at an event for Methodist students. Upon graduation in 1953 Dan enrolled in seminary at Iliff School of Theology, at Denver University. Following Sue’s graduation in 1954, she and Dan were married in the Methodist Church in Sue’s hometown of San Augustine, Texas.
Their daughter, Pamela Sue, was born in Denver in 1955. After graduation from Iliff in 1956, Dan was endorsed by the United Methodist Church and commissioned by the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain. The first assignment after Chaplain’s School at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, was at cold F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was there that their son Mark Alan Franks was born.
In a short time the family was moved to windy Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas and from there to idyllic Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. After three years in Puerto Rico they moved to hectic McGuire AFB in New Jersey. From there to humid Turner AFB in Georgia. It was there that Dan was chaplain to a Photo Mapping Wing with a world wide mission. He was frequently traveling to places across the globe with the mapping personnel. Duty sent him to Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and to a great many of the small islands and atolls in the Pacific. He spent months aboard ships and was ferried to the islands via helicopter.
After two years of traveling he was accompanied by Sue, Pam and Mark to an assignment on Taiwan. Following Taiwan the family was sent to Edwards AFB in California. It was there that he was chaplain to an elite corps of the test pilots, many of whom made aviation history.
While Sue and the children remained at Edwards for another year, Dan was sent to Viet Nam and then Thailand. Upon return he was assigned to McClellan AFB in Sacramento, California, and then to the Command Chaplain’s Office of Air Training Command in San Antonio. The next assignment was to be Command Chaplain of the Pacific Air Forces located at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. As Command Chaplain his responsibilities included the bases in The Phillipines, Okinawa, Korea and Japan.
After three years in Hawaii he assumed the position as Commandant of the Chaplain’s School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where he oversaw the training of new chaplains, the career courses for mid-level and senior chaplains, and various professional courses and seminars.
His final assignment was as Command Chaplain of the Air Training Command in San Antonio. He retired with the rank of Colonel. Decorations included: The Bronze Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Commendation Medal, and Viet Nam Campaign Medals.
Following retirement from the Air Force after thirty years he accepted a position in Germany serving the United Methodist Bishop there as coordinator of English Speaking Methodist Ministries for Germany. Based in Frankfurt he was frequently in a great many of the cities of Germany and also in Luxembourg and Austria. After three years serving in Germany he and Sue returned to their home in San Antonio and he joined the staff of a large congregation there. In 1999 they retired to the family farm in Point Enterprise.
Dan has expressed that he was blessed with a loving wife and family who endured the many moves and absences that Air Force life entailed and faithfully supported him. His daughter, Pam (a teacher in the Wortham ISD), and husband, Gary (also retired as an Air Force Chaplain) moved to the farm in 2014, and have been a great support and solace. His son, Mark, lives in Colorado. There are five grandchildren, Amity, Daniel, Elijah, Katelyn and Raquel; and three great grandchildren, William, Adeline, and Jack.
He felt greatly blessed having lived such a rich life with a loving family and friends. In his next life he has stated that he expects to play cello with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Dan peacefully passed away on March 23, 2017 in Waco, Texas; Neoma Sue, his wife of 62 years, was sitting by him holding his hand while humming their favorite hymns to her beloved husband.
Visitation will be on Sunday March 26, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Blair-Stubbs Funeral Home in Mexia, Texas.
A service of Death and Resurrection will be held on Monday March 27, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Mexia, Texas with Rev. Danny Niedecken and Rev. Gary Smith officiating. Interment will follow in the Point Enterprise Cemetery.