The Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga this month will honor John P. Franklin, Sr., with the 2015 Distinguished Service Award for outstanding community leadership.
Steeped in formal tradition, the Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1922 (93 years), and is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding leadership and service to the community. The award will be presented to Franklin at a recognition luncheon on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the Chattanoogan Hotel. The luncheon is noon to 1 p.m.
Franklin is a native Chattanoogan, and is Chattanooga’s first African American elected official. He is well-known for his humble and gentle spirit, and is admired by many for being a true leader for over 60 years.
Franklin attended East Fifth Street School, and is a graduate of Howard High School. Upon graduating from Howard, he attended Tuskegee Institute for two years before beginning service in the Army in 1942. Upon returning to Chattanooga after World War II, he worked for Franklin Funeral Home, the family business his father had founded. Because his mother was a teacher for many years in the Chattanooga School System, Franklin was determined to complete his education. In 1950, he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Physical Education from Fisk University and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Education and Health in 1951 from Indiana University.
Franklin returned home again to work in the family business, and also applied for a job with the city school system. After serving as a coach and teacher at Orchard Knob Junior High School, he was selected to head the physical education program for black secondary schools of the city. In 1960, he was named Principal of W.J. Davenport School, and a year later went to Alton Park Junior High School as principal – a position he held until 1971.
In 1971, Franklin entered the city’s political arena, successfully running for Commissioner of Education and Health. As a recipient of the highest number of votes among successful candidates, he served as vice-mayor four out of his five terms as commissioner. During this same period of time, Franklin served as chairman of the City School Board, and in 1981, served as president of the Tennessee School Boards Association. Upon leaving the government stage in 1991, he returned to assist other family members with operating the family business.
Franklin is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from many professional and civic groups for his educational and civic involvement. In addition, he has received recognition and awards from several organizations and institutions for meritorious service and business leadership in the community and state.
Franklin has two children and four grandchildren.
Source: Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga