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Friday, November 27, 2015

Jeanne Franklin, 78

Jeanne Franklin of Stamford, a former longtime Westport resident who worked for decades aiding seniors, died Nov. 22 at home. The wife of the late John Franklin was 78.

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Jeanne Franklin: advocate for seniors. Contributed photo

She was an energetic and much-loved advocate for seniors with a lifelong mission to bring people together across borders of age, culture and religion.

She was best known as the founding director of the Stamford Senior Center, as well as serving a four-year term on the state Commission on Aging.

In a letter supporting that appointment, a bipartisan group of eight state legislators from Stamford called her “a visionary and a tireless force for seniors.”

Her work at the Center earned her the title of Outstanding Community Leader of the Year from the Stamford Advocate in 2001.

She retired from the Center in 2010 after 14 years, but kept up a busy pace.

Just last month she wrote an op-ed piece for the Advocate on her “encore career,” visiting the elderly with her registered therapy dog, Cash.

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Jeanne and John Franklin in 2011 when he was honored by the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

But the contribution she will probably be most remembered for is leading the launch of the Stamford Senior Center, which opened in the Government Center downtown in 1996.

Its mission was “to provide programs that will help older adults over 50 to be active, healthy and contributing members of the community…”

In notes she shared with her children and at various speaking engagements, she recalled helping build the Center practically from scratch.

She worked with city managers and architects to vastly expand the Center, eventually adding a library, an auditorium, a computer training room, a deck with a putting green, seminar rooms and a cafe.

Under her leadership and as part of the mission to embrace the city’s diversity, the Center added multicultural events. There were English language courses for new Americans and outreach to older adults in the Spanish-speaking community.

Franklin recalled that the Center attracted about 500 members in the first year, and added 200 to 300 members each year.

When she wrapped up her 14-year tenure as executive director of the Center in 2010, then Mayor Michael Pavia told her, “I have never seen such passion in a human being for what you do,” a story in the Advocate reported.

Franklin’s work with seniors predated the Stamford Senior Center. From 1993 to 1996, she was executive director at Almost Family, a medical adult daycare center that formerly operated in Stamford.

Over the years she also served on the Connecticut Coalition on Aging and was an emeritus board member of the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging and the Stamford Mayor’s Multicultural Council.

Franklin’s distinguished two decades helping seniors was only one stage in a long, lively and dedicated life. Prior to that, she worked equally passionately in the mental health field.

She spent 11 years at the Hall-Brooke Foundation in Westport, which provided psychiatric and substance abuse treatment for teens and adults.

She worked her way up from unpaid volunteer to the executive post of director of community services, responsible for a $350,000 budget.

She raised three children with her late husband, John Franklin, an advertising executive and musical theater writer.

They lived in Westport from 1966 until his death in 2013. In the 1960s, with a small group of dedicated families, they co-founded the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County.

She was an avid swimmer for much of her life. In 1967 she combined that love with her dedication to social action by serving as the first swimming director at the Intercommunity Camp, an integrated summer camp that brought together a diverse group of young people from Westport, Norwalk and Bridgeport.

A native of Milwaukee, she was born Jeanne Warschauer in 1937. She was a graduate of Northwestern University, earning a B.S. in communications in 1959.

She also excelled as the lead swimmer on the Northwestern water ballet team. In 2004, she experienced a great moment of pride when she, along with hundreds of other female Northwestern athletes, finally received their varsity letters from the university.

It was also in college that she met her husband, in a radio production of “Winnie the Pooh.”  He played Eeyore and she was Piglet. They married while still in college.

After her husband died in 2013, she embarked on single life for the first time in 54 years, moving to a condo in Stamford.

That is when she enjoyed what she called her “encore career,” teaming up with her beloved Australian shepherd dog, Cash.

In an op-ed in the Stamford Advocate in September 2015, she described adopting Cash from the Connecticut Humane Society and going through an extensive training course so he could become a registered therapy dog.

“Since I am focused on the needs and resources of older adults,” she wrote, “I decided Cash and I will visit older adults in nursing homes, adult day cares, senior housing, hospice programs, and more, bringing his loving nature to bring happiness to those he visits.”

She is survived by a brother, Tom Warschauer of San Diego, Calif.; son Jim Franklin of Bridgeport; son Jeff Franklin and daughter-in law Dana of Nashville, Tenn.; daughter Jennifer Krulewitch and son-in-law Dan Krulewitch of Westport, and two grandchildren, C.J. and Drew Krulewitch. She was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, John Franklin.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Jan. 8 at 11 a.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation in Stamford, with a reception afterward at the Stamford Senior Center.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Stamford Senior Center or the nonprofit Pet Partners, which promotes animal-assisted therapy, activities and education (and which helped train the team of Franklin and Cash).

To send an online, condolence, visit http://www.shaughnesseybanks.com.

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Posted 11/27/15 at 01:39 PM  Permalink



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Condolences to the Family of this most wonderful woman who did amazing things through the years.  She was a great woman and was,for sure, a mover and a shaker.

Posted by Marcy Puklin on November 28, 2015 at 08:25 AM | #