Transportation 22

Franklyn F Fanning

May 18, 1938 ~ September 22, 2021 (age 83)

Obituary

Frank was born in Brevard NC, the eldest of six children, and, while he was growing up, often lived part of many years in Frostproof, FL, but spent the majority of his lifetime in Texas, where he passed away with his wife and daughter at his side.   Frank is coming home, where he began his life, to be laid to rest by his parents, Frank and Ruby.  

Leaving home to join the Army at 17, Frank served in Alaska but dearly wanted to be a helicopter pilot.  They wanted him to be a MP.  He left the military after that hitch because the Army wouldn’t let him fly and when he got a commitment to fly from another branch of service, the Army prevented his transfer. 

So, he became a pilot, regularly attended air shows, religiously read flying magazines, bought many plane plans, and discussed it all with the other members of the local EAA.  It was his passion.  Over the years, he also enjoyed racing cars, riding motorcycles, playing pool, dancing, bowling and he’d say he enjoyed fishing.  He talked about the old days of running moonshine on mountain roads in NC with no headlights and the law in pursuit.

Frank worked from his childhood until his retirement from the Union Pacific Railroad.  Growing up, he worked in the gladiola fields cutting flowers, picked beans, helped his father with sign painting, washed dishes in a restaurant and picked oranges in Florida.  As an adult, he worked at the Biltmore Dairy delivering product.  At Newport News, he did lettering on the Enterprise.  He painted billboards in Florida until the day the scaffolding broke and he broke his back on a truck door frame when he fell.   After a short recovery, he ‘passed’ his physical given by an old senile doctor and went to work in a back brace and pain as a switchman on the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoP), then the K-T, which all became part the UP.  When he qualified for retirement at 60, he was glad to leave the work behind, but attended every reunion in Smithville.  He enjoyed his free time and keeping his own schedule.

Over the years, Frank knew some famous people.  He knew Billy Graham.  He knew Richard Petty, Tiny Lund, and Wendell Scott, all famous race car drivers.  Once, he was the pilot for Alice Cooper. 

He is survived by his wife Sharon, daughter Brenda and her husband Richard; her children, Brendan, Melynda, and Brooke; Brendan’s wife Aimee and children, Aidan, Noah, Asher, Ember, and Oliver; his sisters Sandra and Norma; brother Wayne and wife Sandy; his uncles Hershel and Gayden; and a very large extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins.  And his beloved dog, Char (Charlene).

Frank was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Brenda, his brother Gerald, and ex-wife Frankie, mother of their daughter Brenda.

Private graveside services will be followed by a reception.

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