Wesley C. Franklin, 82, Army major general

November 04, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Wesley Charles Franklin died Friday of heart failure at his Surfside Beach, S.C., beach home. He was 82 and lived in Street.

After traveling the country and the world during his 32-year military career, General Franklin moved to Harford County, where he built a home after he retired from the Army in 1973.

Born in New York City and raised on Long Island, General Franklin's distinguished military career began during World War II. A reserve officer, he was called to active duty in 1941 and served as a communications officer on Admiral Chester Nimitz's staff in Hawaii in 1943.

During World War II, he helped set up communications stations and links between islands in the U.S. island-hopping campaign in the Pacific theater. He was wounded by artillery fire during the battle for Iwo Jima and also earned a Bronze Star. By the end of the war, General Franklin had been promoted to lieutenant colonel.

As a youth, he showed his tenacious character, earning the badges required to be an Eagle Scout. He was the first child in his family to attend college, graduating from Cornell University in 1938.

In 1941, he married Barbara Maure, with whom he had attended Hempstead High School in New York. She died in 1997.

As a colonel, General Franklin served in Korea as a brigade signal officer. He later attended the National War College in Washington, D. C., from which he graduated in 1961.

During a tour in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., General Franklin started an investment club with a portfolio that gradually grew, decades later, to about $1 million. In his last days, he still followed the changing tides of the stock market.

His last two posts were in Japan, where he served as Chief of Staff, U.S. Forces, and in Texas, where he served as Deputy Commanding General of the 5th U.S. Army, Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

When he retired from the military, the Franklins settled in Street, where they previously had bought several acres of farmland. A carpenter by hobby, Mr. Franklin methodically built a five-bedroom house over a period of years.

Street was where the major general gave generously of his time to charitable causes, serving as president of the Cancer Society and the Harford County chapter of the American Red Cross. "He actually put down roots, but the term retirement doesn't really apply. There was extensive involvement in the community," said his son, retired Lt. Col. George Lewis Franklin of Street.

He also enjoyed traveling.

Services with full military honors will be held at 9 a.m. Monday at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

In addition to his son, Mr. Franklin is survived by a daughter, Mary Beth Franklin of Forest Hill;and two brothers, William James Franklin Jr. of Melbourne, Fla., and G. Robert Franklin of Pompano Beach, Fla.

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