Thomas Raymond Franz – In My Heart Forever

posted in: Family, Relationships, Tom Franz | 1

It’s hard to believe it has been ten years since we all lost Tom. He touched so many lives during his all too short time on earth that I know he will never be forgotten. This is a reprint of something I wrote the year after he died.

Everything about Tom’s life was about joy, and laughter, and living life to the fullest. It seems wrong to remind people of his death. Everybody dies, eventually. But not everyone squeezes every ounce out of life, like Tom did.

Most of us are lucky to have a handful of really good friends throughout our life. Tom probably had hundreds. He was close friends with people he met as a toddler; people he went to highschool and college with and people he met through his many years in the construction industry. I doubt that any of them will ever forget the fun and the laughter that they shared with Tom.

He was a mentor and an inspiration to so many people that a previous employer, Holiday Builders, created an annual scholarship fund in his name just a few days after he died. Certainly those who he guided and encouraged in their careers and the young people who will benefit from The Tom Franz Memorial Scholarship will remember him.

I felt special pride when Tom worked as a supervisor on the Extreme Home Makeover build for Joe Thurston and the Homes for Our Troops build for wounded veteran Russ Marek, but Tom seemed to take as much pride in every home he built and he probably built thousands over his career as a builder. Every one of those homeowners has something to celebrate.

Tom  would spend hours helping complete strangers. He would loan anything he owned to anyone who asked. And he took the time to teach kids and even adults everything he knew about fishing, hunting, gardening or construction.

He had a love of nature and wildlife that was so intense, that it was contagious. And he taught many other people the benefits of doing things in an eco-friendly way so that future generations could enjoy the great outdoors as much as he did. I celebrate Tom every time I walk outside.

He filled every single moment of my life with joy and love and laughter. And if he EVER saw me sitting inside on a beautiful Autumn day like this, he would come right in here and take me outside and show me all of the cool little wonders of nature that were going on around our yard. He changed me, and he changed my life, so much for the better. Just as he changed the lives of almost everyone he met.

It just doesn’t seem right to want to remind people of Tom’s death. It makes much more sense to celebrate what a wonderful success he was at living life to the fullest. I would much rather remind everyone to celebrate the moments that they still have and the people that they love.

How could I not want to celebrate Tom’s life, and the fact that I was blessed enough to be a part of it? How could any of us not want to?

In honor of the most wonderful person I have ever known, Thomas Raymond Franz, who left us all ten years ago on October 29, 2013, I decided to make donations to some of the organizations that remind me of Tom.

Yellowstone National Park – Tom and I visited Yellowstone Park many times when we were in Montana or Wyoming. To me, it is one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.

Grand Teton National Park Foundation – This is another park we often visited when we were in Wyoming. Another beautiful place.

WFIT – Tom had a very diverse taste in music and WFIT was his favorite radio station.  We both discovered a lot of great music on WFIT.

Florida Native Plant Society – Tom was definitely into planting native. We left most of our property native and he always chose natives to plant. We interspersed things like azaleas and orchids but our primarily goal was to garden for wildlife.

Arbor Day Foundation – Before I met Tom, I used to plant oak trees from acorns. I remember once when I had so many of them, that I went up and gave them to Bernie at Rockledge Gardens. One of the things that kind of tugged at my heart strings when I met Tom was that he, too, used to grow oak trees from acorns and often gave them to people as gifts. I know there are several of them planted up in Titusville on his friends Dale and John’s property. Anyway, in honor of Tom’s love of planting more trees, I made a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation in his name.

Trout Unlimited – Tom loved every kind of fishing and he loved taking other people fishing. Even me, the world’s worst angler. LOL.

Florida Wildlife Hospital – If it were up to Tom and I, we would have protected all of the wildlife in Brevard. Thank goodness there are organizations like Florida Wildlife Hospital to do what we couldn’t.

Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club – We loved Jackson Hole. We went there often. It was one of the few places where I took ski lessons and where I learned that skiing was NOT for me. Thankfully, Jackson Hole had an abundance of wildlife to keep me entertained while he was skiing, often with our friends Jon and Kim Hindman.

Florida Fishing Academy – Tom loved to teach kids to fish. The Florida Fishing Academy, based in Palm Beach County, Florida, is on a mission to inspire and educate the next generation of environmental stewards by providing experiential learning opportunities. They believe that fishing, combined with environmental education, can transform young lives and cultivate a sense of responsibility for our planet.

Homes for Our Troops – Another thing Tom loved, was building homes for people. He not only took great pride in his work, but he loved what his work allowed him to do: providing homes that people loved. He was especially proud that he was able to encourage Holiday Builders to participate in the Homes for Our Troops program and build an accessible home for disable veteran Russ Marek.

The world was a better place because Tom was in it. I’ll miss him forever.

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