Longtime Legion official Gene Franks passes away at 84

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Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Dec 16, 2022

Gene Franks, a longtime advocate of Alaska Legion baseball as department adjutant for the American Legion organization in the state for 15 years, passed away last month. He was 84.

Franks is survived by his wife of 63 years, JoAnn, and their son, Dean.

“Gene will be missed throughout the Alaska baseball community,” said Jim Pisa, a National Executive Committeeman for the American Legion in Alaska.

He was active behind the scenes and regularly showed up at games to watch the next generation play the game he loved.

“Gene was a longtime supporter of American Legion Baseball and the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska,” Pisa said. “Over the years, Gene attended many banquets and tournament games. He worked many years with past director Ron LaPorte as well as current director Russ Baker in addition to Steve Nerland and Don Winchester of the Alliance.”

Nerland, the president of the Alliance called Franks a stalwart supporter.

“He stood behind coaches, post managers and other leadership in the American Legion Baseball organization when decisions had to be made,” Nerland said. “When things got tough, Gene got going.”

As department adjutant, Franks was responsible for overseeing business and financial activities of

the state organization and was a liaison to individual Legion posts around Alaska.

Franks was a regular spectator at the Legion State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium and played a crucial role in opening the lines of communication between American Legion representatives and the membership at numerous Legion conferences and events in Alaska.

“He was a thoughtful mentor,” Nerland said. “And always had plenty of good humor in Legion meetings.”

A celebration of life was held in Palmer on Dec.11.