John Travis Franklin
November 15, 1955
March 3, 2022
“If you think it matters much whether you are Methodist or Baptist, it doesn’t. Really.” Consider the life of The Reverend John “Travis” Franklin (also known as “Trav” and “Bub”) who was reunited with his beloved daughter Brittney in perfect union with our Creator on Thursday, March 3, 2022. His spirit is carried on in his children, son Michael, and younger daughter Erin, in his wife, Lara, and through the countless people whose lives have been indelibly marked by his infectious sparkle, loving countenance, and enduring faith.
Born as a “preacher’s kid” in The Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church on November 15,1955, Travis never knew a life outside of a community of faith. Pure of heart and more than a bit naïve at times, he viewed the world and everyone in it through a lens of love. He never ceased to be surprised when disappointed or hurt by humanity or the institutions it has created, but that was part of his enduring charm; he saw and believed only the best of us all.
Travis believed that nothing of value exists outside of relationship, and that the thread that binds those relationships is the ever-present grace of a loving, forgiving, and merciful God. Always knowing that he ultimately could not conquer glioblastoma, he was determined that his funeral service be a worship of God’s sustaining grace rather than a celebration of his own life. To that end, he planned his own service and repeatedly instructed his wife (also a preacher) not to deviate from his design. Furthermore, he instructed that his obituary was not to be a recitation of his accolades and accomplishments, but rather a witness to the values he held as Truths. Were it creative and befitting the published author he aspired to be, all the better.
Truths According to Travis: It is better to be in the trenches than on the sidelines. Every conversation is better over a meal. Unless it contains curry. Nothing is better with curry. There is no mountain larger than God, no valley too deep. Tea should be sweet. 1 John 3:1. The road less traveled is more interesting. Sparkle is sacred. One should sing, the louder the better. There are wounds that will always ache. There can be joy anyway. There is always time for friends. There is never enough time. Give resources to help others. If possible, deliver them yourself and make new friends. Go back often and become part of the community; you can’t have too many communities. Piles are an acceptable system of organization. Deadlines are just suggestions. Periods are optional, commas unnecessary. When it comes to wounded children and hurting people, no one cares whether you are Methodist or Baptist, only that you help reveal the God whose love binds the pain. Some questions have no answers; don’t pretend they do. It’s exhausting trying to please everyone; we really should quit expecting it of ourselves or others. Celebrate diversity; honor difference; draw the circle wider; invite everyone. Build a team. Lead it with love. Treat it as family. Fire Rolly weekly, but never let him go. Wrinkles don’t matter, ironing is a waste of time. Kids are the best. Play like one. Don’t be afraid to cry. If necessary, preach through your tears. Order the bread pudding. If there is no bread pudding, anything sweet will do nicely.
After leading in various capacitates and loving the communities of Corsicana FUMC, Arlington FUMC, Mt. Calm FUMC, Winters FUMC, Azle FUMC, The Methodist Children’s Home, Austin Avenue UMC, Brock UMC, Salado UMC, Glen Lake Camp & Retreat Center, St. John’s UMC, the North District of the Central Texas Conference, and Grapevine FUMC, Travis took medical leave in July 2021. He continued to connect with friends and to suck the marrow from life. Now his work is done. He received a final call, this one not from the Office of the Bishop. It was the sort of offer he just couldn’t turn down, an appointment from which he will not be returning and from which he will never be asked to move. It comes with a new residence and includes a reunion with family and friends he loved dearly but has not seen for quite some time. His new mission requires no more time in the wilderness and offers joys beyond our wildest imaging.
We will remember Travis’ smile, his warmth, his enthusiasm, his love for life, for family and friends, but also for the stranger whose acquaintance he had not yet met but always welcomed. From birth to death, Travis gave himself to the work of Christ’s Body the Church and to the family and friends he loved with his whole heart. As you read this, remember the shared meals that filled your soul, and his grand ideas which occasionally lacked follow-through, and the stories that made you belly laugh.
Travis was preceded in death by his older daughter, Brittney Nicole Franklin; by his father, The Rev. Dr. Dean Franklin; and by several of his closest friends. He is by survived his wife, The Rev. Lara Whitley Franklin, and their daughter, Erin Ann Franklin, a gift of grace later in life; by the first-born child who introduced him to the profound joy of being a dad, his son, Michael Thomas Franklin, and wife Meagan; by his mother, Wilma Loudean Cotten; by his brother, Charles “Chuck” Franklin, and wife, Tammy; by his sister, Michelle Givens, and husband, Monty; by his sister in-law, Alicia Whitley Loeffler, and husband, Michael; by eight nieces and nephews, and by additional beloved family too numerous to name.
The family is grateful for the loving and attentive care of Community Healthcare of Texas. Their presence was a gift of embodied ministry that transformed Travis’ final months and enabled his last days to be at home surrounded by family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, it was Travis’ desire that any memorial gifts be directed to the 529 College Fund established for Erin or the Scholarship Fund at Glen Lake Camp & Retreat Center.
If you wish to contribute to Erin’s 529, you may either:
1. Mail your memorial gift to P.O. Box 2723, Keller, TX 76244, payable to Lara with Erin’s 529 on the memo line, or
2. Send your gift via Zelle to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wish to contribute to Glen Lake Camp, please make your check payable to the Glen Lake Scholarship Fund, Glen Lake Camp & Retreat Center, 1102 NE Barnard St., Glen Rose, TX 76043.
We invite you to join us for worship as we praise God for the gift of John Travis Franklin. We will gather on Saturday, March 12, at 11:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 422 S. Church St., Grapevine, TX 76051.
A livestream will be available at https://www.firstmethodistgrapevine.org/live for those who are unable to attend in person.
Travis believed that there should be a meal anytime people gathered in love. Everyone is invited to share in the feast being provided by FUMC Grapevine following the service. Honor Travis by making this celebration of his life a time to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.