Farewell, Antarctica Dad

23 06 2010

TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
On the freighter MS Disko, en route to Antarctica in late February 1998, I met my Antarctica Dad—aka Richard (Dick) Franklin, who hailed from Dayton, Ohio. I met him at breakfast the first morning after we boarded the ship from Ushuaia, the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world.

He declared, “You look and sound exactly like my middle daughter, Julie—so from here on out, I’m calling you ‘daughter.'” And he did just that via e-mails, Christmas snail mail letters, an occasional phone call, and on a visit as he was passing through the D.C. area with his wife in October, 2006. Although I have yet to meet Julie, my twin-separated-at-birth, I learned that she is an artistic soul as well, nestled in the middle of two sisters—just as I am. I shot the photo (above) of Dick and Judy when they visited us on October 22, 2006. They were standing under our Jack-in-the-Beanstalk-tall false sunflowers that had grown so tall that they began to form a natural archway to the front porch! We became fast friends, Antarctica Dad and I, a bond that lasted until his death.

AND THE BOND CONTINUES
There were so many things that I didn’t know about him but so many things we had in common as well—a love of gardening, nature, photography and travel. He was gregarious, witty, a great listener and my long-distance cheerleader. He e-mailed me jokes, political musings and inspirational photos. He kept me posted on his ongoing tree identification project. Each year I got the annual Christmas letter that highlighted all the things he and Judy were doing in retirement, including galavanting across the U.S. and abroad. He always signed his e-mails to me with Antarctica Dad, Adad, or just Dad. And when I shared his stories to friends and family I always prefaced them with, “My Antarctica Dad told me this…”

I looked over the e-mails from him that I’ve saved throughout the years. In this one below, dated Tuesday, February 10 he congratulated me on getting the opportunity to photograph Dr. Vinton Cerf, the “father of the Internet,” for the cover of the Hearing Loss Magazine.

 

Congratulations!!!!!!! You’ll do a fantastic job and catch the guy behind the beard and the mind that put the world in one big bag via the internet. They couldn’t have picked a better photographer. I can’t wait to see your pictures. Luv ya, Adad

I AM KEEPING THE PRAYER LAMP LIT
Antarctica Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. He kept his friends, including me, in the loop after the diagnosis and while he was exploring treatment options. I received his first e-mail about his health issues on January 21. He had surgery on February 26 to remove the upper left lobe of his left lung. My last e-mail from him was dated March 28, and was full of positive news about getting ready to undergo chemo and relief that the cancer had not spread to his brain, as this kind of cancer often does. He ended every e-mail with, thanks for the prayers, but keep the prayer lamp lit. Love to all. His first chemo was April 1 and when I didn’t hear from him via e-mail for a few weeks, I assumed everything was moving along on course. On April 21, Judy e-mailed everyone to let us know that Dick was being cared for in hospice after unexpected complications from his chemotherapy regimen had set in. He passed away the next morning at 12:02 a.m. He was 82.

His obituary, published in the Dayton Daily News, reads:

FRANKLIN, Richard A. age 82, of Huber Heights passed away early Thursday morning, April 22, 2010 at Hospice of Dayton. He was preceded in death by his parents, 1 brother, and 1 daughter. He is survived by his wife, Judy, of 43 years, 3 daughters, Janet Franklin of Kettering, Jeriann Staddon of Miamisburg, and Julie Franklin of Oakland, CA, 1 sister, Norma Tennies of East Randolph, NY. He leaves behind 4 grandsons, 1 great grand daughter, and 2 great grandsons, as well as several nieces and nephews, and a host of friends and acquaintances. He graduated from Bradford High School in Bradford, PA. He served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He retired Chief, Telemetry Division in 1986 at the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He was elected into Sigma Xi, Research Society of America, and received over 70 awards and commendations, and ended his career by being awarded the Department of Air Force Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He joined the York Rite Masonic bodies of Tokyo, Tokyo Chapter No. 1, Tokyo Council No. 1 and Tokyo Commandery No. 1. He was a member of the Antioch Shrine of Dayton, the Southern Forge and Anvil Association, the Western Ohio Woodworking Club, and the National Rifle Association. Dick actively served as a Boy Scout leader for over 30 years, rose to District Commissioner, and received the District Award of Merit. He volunteered for Metro Parks at Carriage Hill Farm for over 40 years. Dick was an avid photographer, world traveler, and Certified Open Water SCUBA Diver. His wish to be donated to Wright State School of Medicine was honored. Memorial services will be May 1st at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, 5040 Rye Dr, Huber Heights, with Pastor Dobbins officiating. Visitation is scheduled for two hours preceding the service at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation in Dick’s name may be made to Shiners Children’s Hospital, 1900 Richmond Rd, Lexington, KY 40502.

I was so honored to be his “Antarctica daughter” for the past 14 years. He is dearly missed. Farewell, Adad—much love follows you!

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SIDEBAR: It really is a small, small world: Judy’s nephew, Jeffrey Hopper, was the 12th victim of the infamous D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. The 37-year-old was shot while leaving a Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia with his wife Stephanie. They had stopped for dinner en route to their home in Florida after visiting family in Pennsylvania. He is one of the few survivors of the “D.C. Sniper” attacks in D.C. area in October 2002. I remember that paralyzing time so well. With the randomness of victims and venues, and the fact that one fatal attack happened in an area where I frequently shopped, I seriously considered uprooting and leaving the northern Virginia area. I was in Denver photographing a client’s conference in late October that year when Muhammad and Malvo were finally apprehended. It was such a relief to come back home, knowing they had been caught.

The two had intentionally filled the gas tank before reaching the D.C. area so they would not have to stop and become a “potential target.” “When I was shot, I felt as if I had an unusual type of stomach ache,” Mr. Hopper said. “It was a dull, queasy feeling, not a sharp pain.” He lost about 70 percent of his stomach, part of his pancreas and spleen and his liver, kidney, lung and rib were damaged. He has since recovered from his extensive injuries. However, he and his wife joke about how they no longer go to buffets because, “Jeff does not have the stomach for them.” As Mrs. Hopper waited in the hospital for her husband to recover, a local church sent her a care basket with fruit, a toothbrush, toothpaste and other “simple comforts. “She now makes “trauma bags” with similar items for the local trauma center so that others may be comforted during tough times. —excerpted from “The Sniper Attacks, 7 Years Later: A Remembrance / Washington Times.com