Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Early Ending

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Early Ending

Article excerpt

Donald Franklin, who held the lonely vigil late at night for more years than most St. Louis Post-Dispatch folk cared to count, and who wrote about enough tragedies to fill hundreds of newspapers, finally reached the point where he'd had enough. Franklin retired at the end of April after 37 years as reporter, rewrite, night city editor and dozens of other assignments.

Like so many people taking retirement these days, either at the Post or at many other organizations, there was an unspoken feeling that, as many working men and women have said at the end of their careers, it just isn't fun anymore.

His most memorable, and one of the most difficult assignments, was covering the plane crash that killed Gov. Mel Carnahan. It was late at night, with deadlines looming, and it was off the roads and deep in the woods, like the location of so many accidental deaths.

"Covering it and getting the facts was the easy part," Franklin reminisced. "But I was way out of phone range and had to travel about 10 miles before I found a volunteer fire department building where there was a working phone. And it was such a sad story, too, a real tragedy."

Franklin grew up in East St. Louis and graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a major in English; after a couple of years in the Army at Fort Leonard Wood, he became a teacher in Chicago and got his first brush with journalism when he became faculty adviser to the school newspaper at Wendell Phillips High School, where he also taught English. …

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