In Memory of Don Franklin
A Royal Rangers Champion
By Steve and Dave Franklin
August 17, 2011
The legacy of Royal Rangers pioneer Don Franklin has been a life of training and instruction and a ministry of giving, often behind the scenes.
That lifelong legacy has been put to rest this past week as dad was overcome by a stroke
that gave him his highest calling to his heavenly reward.
As a preacher’s kid with champion parents, there were many times of inside knowledge of pastoral ministry. When the car rolled into the garage after ch
urch, the Bible was placed on the kitchen table, and the tie and coat came off, the real dad was never different from what he proclaimed in Rangers or from the pulpit. The deep desire to read the Word, intense times of daily prayer, instruction at home with his two boys, and his love to help and minister outside of the home or pulpit continued well into his retirement years. His love of life, ministry, and Rangers was the hallmark of his life.
Dad always found ways of finding things to do at church. He served as the president of the local Christian School, drove church buses, knocked on doors to invite children to church, taught Sunday School, and served on the church board. When Rangers was introduced to our church in Southern California in the early 1960’s, dad was the first to be involved. There were three compelling reasons for him to get involved in a premium ministry for boys: his two sons and a strong desire to unite with other Christian brothers since he never had a brother of his own. Dad dedicated his life to church in lay ministry whether he was working as a medical professional or self-employed.
That deep desire to serve his Lord and provide spiritually for his family ultimately enabled him to answer a call to full-time ministry that was placed on his life decades before. God finally persuaded him to become an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God and to offer his life and livelihood to full-time ministry. As dad answered the call of God on his life, he pioneered several world class Royal Ranger outposts that reached national recognition.
While serving on church staff in Lawton, OK and Dallas, TX, he received a call from Johnnie Barnes, national commander of Royal Rangers, with an offer to move to Springfield, MO to serve on the Royal Rangers national staff. During his years as the national training coordinator, he traveled across the nation; graded the Leadership Training Courses, including personal notes to each man that joined the correspondence courses; served as the commander for a multitude of National Training Camps, Training Trails, Canoe Expeditions, and Advanced Training Camps; and was part of a team that wrote scores of articles and handbooks that became structure for the Ranger organization at that time. During this time, he continued to be personally involved in the lives of men across the nation w
ith prayer, encouraging notes, and organizational leadership.
As a good Ranger leader, dad tried to prepare boys for unexpected circumstances even if these had to be simulated. Water was poured on tents to determine if rainfall would penetrate the site. He took as much pleasure in designing a zip line across the creek as he did finishing an article for the Pentecostal Evangel. With feigned gravity and a complete briefing, he would prepare the Pioneers, armed only with flashlights, burlap bags and sticks, for a late night snipe hunt. Admonishing the Air Rangers to stop snickering, he would collect actual field sightings of creatures from the size of a field mouse to Bigfoot. There were ample opportunities for dad to teach and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit as boys learned to work as teams.
In unguarded moments at home, he would admit his shortcomings. He had a desire to read and apply the Scriptures and hear from the Holy Spirit. He never lost his love of extreme laughter and always found a way to share his perennial smile. Dad could be found playing the piano and singing out of the hymnal at home. Worship wasn’t just a ‘Sunday morning’ thing; it was his lifestyle.
As an Army veteran, dad, with mom’s help, welcomed servicemen into our home throughout the years. While preparing for deployment to a foreign land and facing the uncertainty and danger of combat, these young servicemen found Christian fellowship in our home.
Dad and mom were very free with their affection at home, and we would chuckle at this as teenagers. This affection was the outward sign of a deep love they had for each other—a love that was made in heaven and was a perfect model for us to follow as we grew up and got married.
Scriptures that Dad loved: Phil 3:14 & Phil 4:13
Memory of a Friend
By Paul Stanek
Don Franklin was born January 31, 1925. When his country called for his service, he proudly joined the US Army Air Corps where he gained much experience there for his futu
re calling to ministry. Don married Lola, his loving wife of sixty-three (63) years, and from this union two sons and ten grandsons blessed their lives. Royal Rangers was a focus point in the Franklin family.
Don started in the Royal Rangers ministry in 1965 in Santa Ana, CA. He then moved to Dallas, TX and joined the staff of Oak Cliff Assembly of God. In 1971 Johnnie Barnes, national commander of Royal Rangers, requested Don come to the national office in Springfield, MO as the third national training coordinator. He helped develop Royal Rangers books and publications. There he served outstandingly and honorably from 1971-74.
While Don was attending the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, he returned to the national Royal Rangers office as the chartering coordinator. He later became district commander of Southern Missouri.
Don loved to teach and was an avid student of the Word. Don’s journey led him to many churches. He pastored in Texas, Michigan, Kansas, and Arkansas. He loved golf and classical music. He prayed while he golfed, and it is believed to hav
e helped his score.
Don was an outstanding outdoorsman. He would shine on the National Training Trails or National Canoe Expeditions. He was a polar bear by nature, getting in any water available. I recall at one NTT when ice was still on the pond that Don jumped right in and began to sing joyfully. None of the other staff members dared to make that plunge.
I recall many memories of council fires and national Royal Rangers events. Don was a big part of the vision, expression, and development of the Royal Rangers ministry. He will be missed. Thank you, Don and the Franklin family, for selflessly giving so much to us.