Mike Franklin, 59, died Sept. 20, 2014, of depression after a long and courageous battle. Born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, he was a true Southern gentleman who fell in love with Montana’s Rocky Mountains.
Where he worked last, was what he loved most: his job at Carroll College for the last 11 years as the director of Counseling Services. He loved the students and his colleagues. In the 15 years before coming to Carroll College, he served as a U.S. Naval chaplain and earned a master’s degree at Yale University. He spent three years as a Methodist minister after earning his Masters of Divinity from Duke University and true to his nature, he was still in contact with the parishioners of the small parish he ministered to 29 years ago.
Prior to finding his calling as a spiritual minister, he served as a U.S. Army officer for five years after graduating from West Point. He graduated from T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson in 1973 where he played football, the start of a passion for intense sports. He found joy in parachute jumping, rugby, skiing, kayaking and riverboarding in rivers above his skill level and hiking off the beaten path.
Who he loved last and loved best was his wife, Georgia Lovelady, whom he married on July 9, 2011, on the campus of Carroll College. A close second was his dog and constant companion, Gracie, who died in May, four months before his own death.
Mike was generous in all ways, including with his time, his knowledge and mentoring others. He was unfailingly kind, gregarious, spiritual and funny (including two stints of stand-up comedy at the local brewery). He reached out to others even when he himself was struggling.
Mike is survived by so many who loved him dearly. If love alone could have kept him from the depths of depression, he would have sailed above his mental illness. Family members who survive him are his two stepsons, Eric and Cole Speer, the children he never had, but loved well; his sister, Gail Elrod of Pennsylvania; his brother, Curtis Franklin (Angie) of South Carolina; his nephews, Brad Elrod (Shirley) of Pennsylvania and Scott Franklin (Ami) of South Carolina; nieces Kyena Cornelius (Rob) of Maryland and Tara Jenness (Wayne) of South Carolina, and all their children. Left behind too are his in-laws, Bill and Betty Lovelady of Helena, who thought the world of Mike. Mike was predeceased by his parents, Curtis Lionel Franklin Sr. and Myrtle Lee Beiers Franklin.
Mike was an incredible friend to so many and over the years stayed in touch with friends who span several states and countries and generations. His early departure leaves a hole in the hearts of his friends, some of whom he gave nicknames that they are stuck with.
A community gathering to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, Sept. 27, at Carroll College in the upper level of the Cube (student center) at 2 p.m., followed by a reception.
Mike would ask only that you reach out to those you love on a regular basis. However, if you wish to connect to what Mike cared about, memorial donations are suggested to NAMI Montana (National Alliance for Mental Illness), P.O. Box 1021, Helena, MT 59624; and an educational fund for his stepsons at Valley Bank of Helena, P.O. Box 5269, Helena, MT 59604 Attn: John Anthony. Please visit www.retzfuneralhome.com to offer the family condolences or to share a memory of Mike.