Cover photo for Charles W. Franks's Obituary
Charles W. Franks Profile Photo
1948 Charles 2019

Charles W. Franks

May 10, 1948 — August 26, 2019

Charles William Franks, 71, Anoka, MN, was born May 10, 1948. He was the first of seven children born to William and Lorene (Bjorgaard) Franks at St Luke's Hospital in Fargo, ND. Charles passed away August 26, 2019, while being treated for an Interstitial Lung Disease at Mayo Clinic - St Mary's Hospital in Rochester, MN.

Charles and each of his siblings were enrolled in parochial schools through 8th grade, a strong pre-requisite of their mother. In addition to achieving solid academic performance, Charles participated in Altar Service, AAA School Safety Patrol Captain, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. When Charles was about ten, he started delivering newspapers for the Fargo Forum. With assistance from his parents and younger brother John, Charles was able to perform daily delivery and collections over a five-year period for the largest paper route in Fargo-Moorhead.

During his high school years, Charles received ‘Top Salesperson' acknowledgment for his participation in the Junior Achievement Program.

During his college years, Charles worked part-time at a local photo finishing laboratory in most aspects of that occupation. That experience was instrumental in helping him initiate a life-long interest in amateur photography as one of his hobbies. His efforts focused on the natural environment and his work was later judged during the mid-1990s in the Twin Cities area to be worthy of various awards, honorable mentions and a ‘Grand Champion of the Year' award.

While enrolled in the Pre-Engineering curriculum at Moorhead (MN) State, Charles was a charter member for the forming of the local fraternity, Xi Omega. He also served as corresponding secretary until transferring to NDSU. As a precursor to tuition reciprocity among NDSU, Moorhead State and Concordia, Charles was one of the early participants in the Tri-College Program.

Upon completing the requirements for NDSU's Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering, Charles succeeded in securing employment as a Design Engineer with a consulting firm in Connecticut. Since a number of basic aspects of project location, scope, justification, cost, etc. were being established by others before design engineers were brought onto the design team, Charles elected to return to NDSU to obtain a Master's Degree in Community and Regional Planning. During his first year of graduate school, Charles was the recipient of a ND Board of Higher Education Scholarship to assist with the formulation and implementation of an environmental education program for elected officials. Between his first and second years of graduate school, Charles functioned as one of the charter members responsible for forming the Community Design Center, which made professional design services (Architectural, Engineering and Planning) available to non-profit community-based organizations. The Master's Degree was a two-year program that required the academic year to be an internship. Charles was assigned to relocate to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, ND.

Charles went on to assume the responsibilities of the first Planning Director for the North Central Planning Council, a community and regionally based multi-disciplinary effort focusing on ND Planning Region III, i.e. Rolette, Towner, Cavalier, Ramsey, Benson and Eddy counties.

Seeing the need to undertake community development projects necessary for fulfilling community planning efforts, Charles acquired expertise in grant writing capabilities with an approved success rate of 93%. With a demonstrated approval on various proposals requesting state/federal funds, small to medium size communities were able to complete multi-year programs that focused on central business development and main street renewal. This also included land acquisition and relocation of existing property owners where properties were essential for building new senior citizen apartment complexes; securing rent subsidy agreements with Federal agencies such that private sector developers could make sound financial investments in providing public housing units, restoration of historic structures, construction of multi-purpose outdoor facilities, construction of a community-wide youth center and senior center; rehabilitation of existing houses that did not meet minimum housing code requirements; and street paving.

In order to meet the demand from ND communities for professional services relating to Planning, Development and Grant Writing, Charles transitioned from consultant to a small firm of six staff members. After assuming a self-imposed work load of 80-hr weeks for 5-6 years, Charles elected to take a sabbatical and started work with the U.S. Postal Service. After 7 years working for the USPS in ND, Charles applied for and received an appointment to the position of Architect-Engineer with the USPS in Minneapolis, MN. He was initially assigned to a 50-Post Office territory covering portions of ND and MN. After serving 25 years in that capacity, Charles' territory had expanded to include states in the Upper and Central Midwest, which totaled 2700 Post Offices. Charles' work program involved direct supervision of various Architectural and/or Engineering firms that were under contract with the Postal Service to develop plans and specifications necessary to address building deficiencies, repairs or historic preservation efforts. In addition, Charles administered construction contracts necessary to complete all building restoration efforts. To assist in those endeavors, the Postal Service awarded Charles Contracting Officer status.

After Charles' 40-year involvement in public service pursuits, he retired in 2011. He started allocating his time for photography, delving into family history and genealogy record searches, yard projects, and travel. Using information in family tree development, he was able to trace family ties back to Norway (1690s), Ireland (1800s) and Germany (1750s).

In 1985, Charles met the love of his life, Denise Otto. After a 14-year courtship, they married in 1999 in Fargo. Their 34 years together included extensive travel in the US, Canada and a cruise in the Caribbean. They enjoyed many family get-togethers for playing board games, cards or just visiting. In 1998, they jointly designed and planned the construction of a new home in a rural north metro development. Throughout the years, they successfully planned and carried out many landscaping projects.

Charles was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Charles Elmer and Mary (Malia) Franks; maternal grandparents, Oscar C. and Ethyl Bjorgaard; and parents, William and Lorene.

Charles is survived by his wife, Denise, Anoka; brothers, John (Cheryl), Blaine, MN, Steven (Sue), Andover, MN, Brian (Kelly), Dallas, TX, Patrick (Deb), Aurora, CO; sisters, Charlotte (Lynn) Erickson, Sheyenne, ND, and Janis Botner, Moorhead; special nieces and nephews; and many special life-long friends.

Visitation for Charles will be Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, from 4 - 6 PM with a prayer service at 6 PM, in Korsmo Funeral Chapel, Moorhead. The Mass of Christian Burial will be Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, at 10 AM, in St. Mary's Cathedral, Fargo. Burial will take place in Holy Cross (North) Catholic Cemetery, Fargo.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Mayo Clinic for Pulmonary Fibrosis research. Click on this link, and scroll to 'other' under Designation, and manually enter 'Pulmonary Fibrosis' in the box.


SEP 2. 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM (CT)

Korsmo Funeral Chapel

409 8th St. S.

Moorhead, MN 56560

Prayer Service

SEP 2. 6:00 PM (CT)

Korsmo Funeral Chapel

409 8th St. S.

Moorhead, MN 56560

Mass of Christian Burial

SEP 3. 10:00 AM (CT)

St. Mary's Cathedral

619 7th St N

Fargo, ND 58102

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charles W. Franks, please visit our flower store.


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