I suppose everyone Bob Franks had ever touched is feeling as if their heart is broken. I know I am. Imagine in this world of partisanship, gutter driven politics and lack of advocacy for real solutions – there existed a man who stood above it all, all the time, whether elected or not. Bob Franks was that man. Passionate, courageous, smart, practical, great husband, and great father; Bob Franks was the kind of man you would hope your son would become.
Never did any of us, Democrat or Republican, ever hear from Bob Franks, “No, I can’t, I don’t have the time, it really isn’t my issue, and I don’t think I can help…” No, Bob Franks would take any serious and willing public policy partner and pursue that issue no matter the risk, the outcome, or the discord. He fought the fights worth fighting and did it with grace and humility and inevitably made more friends, not less, while on the political battlefield.
I worked closely with Bob during my years working with Jon Corzine, and it was always remarkable to me how he approached the issues of the day. He was clearly a terrific Republican leader, but never at the expense of policy solutions that could help the average New Jerseyan. Bob was a stellar tactician and leader who inspired countless individuals to do better, reach higher, and conduct themselves in a way that is becoming of the position or the office you held. Not only did he never allow disagreements to become personal, quite the opposite, he would spend the time to learn your position, explain his, and agree to disagree while deepening the friendship.
The best part of Bob though, was how much he cared for and got to know your family. Clearly the top priority in his own life, he extended that love of family to every friendship he built. He always wanted to hear about the kids, the spouse, the real life experiences which were happening in your life everyday. He often wanted to bring his family and your family together in the hopes of a few laughs and a short distance between two worlds. There are so many likeable parts to Bob it’s hard to imagine how he lost any election… The reality is though; he won every election because there is not one among us in this business that has anything but kind, affectionate, words of admiration about Bob.
I, like so many others today, are thinking about Fran, Kelly, Sara, and Abby. First Fran, who shared Bob so often one had to wonder if she married an entire political workforce or just a man? Fran, you have been wonderful to share Bob with us and need to call upon us for anything you may need now or in the future.
To Kelly, Sara and Abby – in the Front Office we used to refer to you as the amazingly well behaved and fun; Team Franks. Sara, who often attended State of the State speeches and joined Bob at countless events, was a common visitor to our office. So often in fact, she convinced the Governor Corzine to come up to Camp Harmony and kick off the Pledge of Allegiance before day camp started one summer. Clearly her advocacy skills are well honed, even at her age. And Kelly, the smart, athletic, sophisticated daughter with the combination of Abby the crazy, wide eyed, fun one – the one that made Bob roll his eyes, shrug his shoulders, release that huge grin of his and say, “AAAAAbbbbbbyyyyyyyyyy.”
What a family Bob and Fran built. We are all thinking of you – sending you our love and prayers and knowing how special it was that all of you let us share in Bob’s life. We thank you, and we are here for you.