Edward A. Franks, 83, died Saturday morning, Sept. 18, 2010 at his family’s home at Fishers Lake in rural Three Rivers. “Ed” had lived with his daughter, Laurel Cordes, and her family for the last 2 1/2 years at the lakeside residence, and enjoyed the company of the family as they assisted in his care.
Ed was born on Jan. 19, 1927, in Buchanan, the son of August and Rosa (Rother) Franks. His mother died at an early age, and Ed was raised by his father and his second wife, Lydia. He grew up in the Berrien County area, attending the Lutheran School, and Benton Harbor High School.
Anxious to serve his country, Ed entered the Marines at the age of 17. He was an expert marksman, and was soon assigned to the Pacific Theater. He participated in death-defying “island hopping,” moving with the American forces across the vast ocean, landing and engaging in the close-quarters tropical jungle combat that was necessary to secure each island. His combat experiences included the LST-launched assault of Guam.
Following the American victory in the Pacific Theater, Ed was dropped with a small contingent of Marines into mainland China to conduct a secretive training of a contingent of Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces which were struggling with Mao Tse-tung’s communist troops. Left without support for a year, Ed and his platoon holed up in a monastery with meager rations, attempting to conduct training in an impossible circumstance.
Ed was also stationed in Japan with the postwar American occupation forces in the aftermath of the fighting as part of the effort to stabilize that conquered nation.
Ed returned to the U.S. West Coast and was able to secure passage to Chicago and then Michigan, back to the area that he grew up in. Once there he finished high school, and attended Michigan Tech College in Houghton. He married Sarah Frances Wilson in 1949, and the couple raised three daughters. Ed and Sarah were actively involved members of the United Methodist Peace Temple in Benton Harbor, and then Berrien Springs United Methodist Church in Berrien Springs. Ed took a position with Whirlpool Corporation, eventually rising to the position of Supervisor of Plant 3 at the St. Joseph complex.
Years after the dissolution of his first marriage, Ed married Elizabeth Smith, to whom he was married for several years before that union ended.
An avid fisherman, Ed spent a great deal of his retirement seeking out the best fishing spots in the Southeastern U.S., into which he would launch his bass boat for a good session of fish catchin’. He was also a fastidious landscaper, transforming his several homes into neighborhood showpieces.
Ed was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter Sheila (Franks) Putman. He is survived by his daughters, Laurel (Rick) Cordes and Pamela (Pete) Sullivan; his sister, Marilyn Franks; grandchildren, Caleb and Olivia Cordes, Zachariah Freed, Joshua, Rachel, and Jared Sullivan, Terah (David) Victorine; step-grandchildren, Maya (Adam) Bramlage, Casey Cordes and Chelsea (Jeremy) Frei; step-great-grandchildren Lucien Bramlage, Vadin Cordes, Gage and Finley (deceased) Frei, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Cremation has taken place, and there will be a memorial celebration of Ed’s life Friday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m. at the Agape Family Church, 56431 Wilbur Road, Three Rivers. As an expression of sympathy and in lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the church.