Franklin M. Reck

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

This community lost one of its most noted personalities, Thursday, October 14, 1965, when author Franklin M. Reck, 68, died at his typewriter in his home here. This was on the eve of the release of his 25th book, "Stories Boys Like."

Mr. Reck had lived at 665 W. Main Street since 1941, and had written all but three of his books there. He became a full-time, freelance writer after moving to Manchester, writing "The 4-H Story," the official history of the 4-H movement. He also served for six years as boys' editor of the Farm Journal.

Employed as a consultant for Ford Motor Company, he handled the Company's Recreation Unlimited department, and wrote the Ford Guide to Outdoor Living and Station Wagon Living.

He made several extended trips to South and Central America and wrote books and periodicals on Latin America. On several of these trips his wife accompanied him.

At the time of his death, he was planning a book on trout fishing. An outdoor story of his was published in the August True magazine of 1965. He was also working on a proposal to publish a farm quarterly for Latin America to be sponsored by the Ford Overseas Tractor Division, and was collaborating with other writers on a book dealing with growth of cities in the U.S.

He was born in Chicago, and went through high school in Rockford, Ill. As editor of the high school paper and of the yearbook, he acquired his first taste of writing.

Later he worked for his father in the machine tool business in Cincinnati, Ohio, for just a year, listened to his father's advice and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in the Wharton School of Finance. But Reck's heart was never in that field.

This was during World War I, and Reck enlisted in the spring of 1917 in the 28th Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard. After the war he took a job in the steel mills and worked 12 hours a day. His personal experiences were as diverse as his writings.

Late in the summer of 1941, after the demise of 'The American Boy" Reck and his wife, Claire, began looking for a place to live. Their daughter. Linda, was 8 years old. Another child was on the way.

On October 29, the Reck family, augmented by baby Sarah, settled down in Manchester to a career of freelancing.

Everyone enjoyed a skating party on the Raisin just north of the Main Street bridge.

Just days before his death he was interviewed prior to the release of his new book. At that time he said, "till, the aspiring young authors that all books are not best sellers—they don't all make money. Sometimes there is quite a lull between checks."

He wrote many magazine articles but his first love was books. "Books are a challenge and stay on the shelves a long time. Magazine articles have a pretty short life."

For twelve years he was in "Who's Who in America."

At Manchester, Mr. Reck served in many community activities. He was on the school board and served as president for nine years, member and president of the Optimist Club, and also Community Chest. He was very active in Washtenaw County Red Cross Chapter, and before his death received a citation for outstanding service.