Robert D. Franke, Col USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on March 27, 2015.

Robert Duane Franke was a Super Sabre Society member and well-known Air National Guard Commander. He was born February 24, 1941, and raised on a farm near Ossian, IN. He unexpectedly passed into his heavenly home on March 27, 2015. He was a loving husband, beloved father, adored grandfather, admired brother, and devoted follower of Christ. He never knew a stranger, just friends he hadn’t yet met.

He was preceded by his parents, Erwin C. and Velma W. (Miller) Franke, and brother, Erwin C. Franke Jr.

He is survived by his beautiful bride of 52 years, Carolyn (Hostetter) Franke, and two children, Curtis D. (Leigh Anne) Franke and Julia A. (Franke) Bohn (Stephen). He had five grandchildren: Zachariah, Nathanial, and William Franke; and Christian and Noah Bohn. Surviving siblings are Rosalie (Gary) Van Dam, Cathy (Rex) Lepper, and sister-in-law Carol Franke.

Even as a little boy, Bob wanted to fly airplanes. He realized and lived out that dream by starting his career in the Indiana Air National Guard as an Airman Basic in 1959, early on receiving his direct commission and becoming a fighter pilot, serving a total of 37 1/2 years. During his flying career, he flew the T-37, T-38, F-84F, F-100 (C, D and Fs), F-4 C and E, and the F-16C.

He attained the rank of Colonel and Wing Director of Operations for the 122nd Tactical Fighter Wing based out of Ft. Wayne, IN. In his last three years of service, Bob was on the front line of the war on drugs in Washington D.C., becoming the director of the counter-drug enforcement division for the Guard. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and many more.

Shortly after his retirement in 1996, Bob and Carolyn moved to Greenback, TN, where he was once again called into leadership and service. In the public sector, Bob served three terms as Loudon County Commissioner and, later, on the board of TASS. For his church, First Presbyterian of Greenback, TN, Bob served as Elder, Sunday school teacher and Corporate President. He continued to scratch his flying itch by hanging with other “flight jocks” as a charter member of the Quiet Birdmen Hanger at McGhee Tyson Airport. In all of these activities, he brought humor, a genuine Christian love for others, and a warm “orneriness” that made all who came into contact with him not only like him, but feel better. He was loved and is already greatly missed.

Visitation is to be held Thursday, April 2nd, from 2-5 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Greenback TN, (6790 Morganton Road) with Memorial Service to begin immediately following, and officiated by Rev. David Bell. Bob loved God, family and country and was proud to serve all. Interment details are pending.

In lieu of flowers, the Franke family would appreciate donations to the Presbyterian Church of Greenback Building Fund, 6790 Morganton Road, Greenback, TN 37742, or the Salvation Army (

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