Richard P. Franke, 80, business owner


Richard P. Franke, a retired mechanical engineer and business owner who was a leader in the Engineering Society of Baltimore, died of complications related to diabetes and cancer Tuesday at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. The former Riderwood resident was 80.

Born in Fort Wayne, Ind., he moved with his family to Baltimore in 1939 and graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1943. After serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, he earned a mechanical engineering degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

He joined Taze & Hewitt Inc., a Baltimore manufacturers' representative firm for heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment, in 1949. Thirty years later, he became president and owner of the business on East 21st Street.

Mr. Franke retired in 1992 and moved to Ocean Pines, transferring ownership of the business to his son, Clarke R. Franke of Glen Arm, who moved it to Rosedale.

Mr. Franke was a past president of the Kiwanis Club of Baltimore and the Baltimore Chapter of American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

He was a past president of the Engineering Society of Baltimore, known as the Engineers Club. Family members said that about 45 years ago, he was instrumental in the acquisition and renovation of its landmark headquarters, the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion on West Mount Vernon Place.

Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 8516 Loch Raven Blvd., where he had been congregation president.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Betty Ehlers; two daughters, Gail F. Smith of Ocean Pines and Janice R. Franke of Columbus, Ohio; and seven grandchildren.

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