John D. Franks (1970/07/16)

A Santa Cruz park named in his honor reminds the community of John Franks.

John David Franks, one of the seven children of W. T. and Marguerite Franks, was born on February 26, 1925 in Spokane, Washington. His brothers Charles, William, Steven and James and sisters Rita and Mary rounded out the Franks family. John attended Santa Cruz High School in 1941-42 where he played football. He was graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1943.

Following his graduation, Franks enlisted in the Merchant Marines. He completed his basic training in San Mateo followed by programs at the USMM Academy in Kings Point, New York, officer training at Alameda California, and turbo electric school at UC Berkeley. During World War II, he served in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific Theaters and earned a Purple Heart.

When the war ended, he accepted a position as engineering officer on the President McKinley of the Matson Shipping Lines. During this period, John married Sally Jane Work, also of Santa Cruz, and the couple moved to San Francisco. Soon their family had grown to include sons John Jr. and Eric and daughters Carolyn and Dorothy.

In 1951, Franks volunteered his services during the Korean War to the US Coast Guard and received a commission He continued to move up the ranks and by 1967, was a full Commander stationed in Jacksonville, Florida.

During the Vietnam Conflict, Commander Franks was posted to San Francisco and served as the Chief of Law Enforcement and Intelligence to the commander of the 12th Coast Guard District. In that capacity he was responsible for criminal investigations, personal background checks, the collection and analysis of intelligence data and for providing personal protection services to high-ranking Coast Guard officials and VIPs. Franks also became a member of the Marine Square club and remained active in Masonic activities.

In 1970 Commander John David Franks was diagnosed with an undisclosed illness or condition from which he died on July 16, 1970. Following his cremation and funeral at the Coast Guard Training and Supply Center chapel on Government Island in Alameda, his ashes were scattered at sea. His hometown of Santa Cruz remembered him by naming a park in his honor.

(SCSn July 19, 1970 25:5; SCSC page 267; CGVA, US Coast Guard Ratings, 2006,, [16 September 2008])

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1970s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-FRANKS


Nelson, Robert L. “John D. Franks (1970/07/16).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.