A memorial service for prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder John Franks, who died Dec. 31 at the age of 78, is set for Jan. 3.The service will begin a 2 p.m. CST at Trinity Heights Baptist Church in Shreveport, La. Franks suffered a heart attack and later died at Willis-Knighton Pierremont Hospital in Shreveport.Franks, a four-time Eclipse Award winner, was born April 21, 1925, in Haughton, La., and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II prior to his graduation in 1949 from Louisiana State University Baton Rouge with a degree in geology. He founded Franks Petroleum Inc. in 1957, and was actively involved in the company until his death.Franks was a 50-year member of the Shreveport Geological Society, an active member of Trinity Heights Baptist Church, and a member of numerous other organizations including LSU and First National Bank.Franks received numerous honors including the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce's 1988 Business Leader of the Year; induction into Fair Grounds Hall of Fame; induction into the Ark-La-Tex Track and Field Hall of Fame; induction into the North Louisiana Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame; and induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame at Northwestern State University.Franks owned Franks Farms near Shreveport and Franks Farms Southland Division near Ocala, Fla. He was the nation's leading breeder by races won six times (1988, '89, '90, '91, '92, and '93). He bred grade I winners Sharp Cat, Royal Anthem, and Lady Tak. Among the horses Franks campaigned were his homebred Answer Lively, champion two-year-old male of 1998 and winner of that year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs; grade I winners Kissin Kris, Halo America, Derby Wish; and multiple graded stakes winner Littlebitlively. He led the nation in wins six times (1983, '84, '86, '87, '88, and '89) as an owner. He earned $3.1-million in 1984, then a single-season record. He also led the nation in earnings in 1983, '86, and '93. He received Eclipse Awards as outstanding owner in 1983, '84, '93, '94. Louisiana Downs was only a few years old when Franks decided to get into the horse racing business in 1979. He was the leading owner every year from 1982 to 1999. The green and orange silks of Franks had been carried to the Louisiana Downs winner's circle in nearly 150 stakes.
Franks is survived by his wife of 51 years, Alta Vascocu Franks; his daughters, Karen Recchia and husband David, and Jeanne Laing and husband Michael; four grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the "Now is the Time Fund" at Trinity Heights Baptist Church, 3820 Old Mooringsport Road, Shreveport, La., 71107; University Christian Prep, 4800 Old Mooringsport Road, Shreveport, La., 71107; or Live Oak Retirement Community, 600 E. Flournoy-Lucas Road, Shreveport, La., 71115.