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Fabian Franklin


Centurion, 1910–1939

Born 18 January 1853 in Eger, Hungary

Died 9 January 1939 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum, Hartsdale, New York

Proposed by Rollo Ogden and Henry Holt

Elected 4 June 1910 at age fifty-seven

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

At the age of two, Fabian Franklin was brought by his parents to the United States from his native Hungary, where his mother’s brother served as secretary to Kossuth. At sixteen he was a Bachelor of Philosophy. It was after eight years’ practice as a civil engineer, and, at Johns Hopkins, sixteen years’ teaching of mathematics, that he became in 1895 a publicist. As such for more than four decades he was noted for his penetrating and usually irrefutable editorials, articles, books, and “letters to the editor.” As early as 1922 his “What Prohibition Has Done to America” established him as a prophetic leader of the Anti-Prohibition movement. None of his writing on miscellaneous subjects was more effective than his work on the Weekly Review, founded and edited by Centurion Harold deWolf[e] Fuller.

At the club and elsewhere Franklin was often compared in his mastery of the supposedly obsolete art of conversation, with the encyclopedic Dr. Johnson,—whose savage dogmatism, however, he in no way shared. A young newspaper associate wrote of Dr. Franklin’s apologizing now and then “for his copiousness, little dreaming that we were all better men for hearing him . . . that there is not one of us who, after an hour or so with him, does not depart with private resolutions of honor and fidelity to wisdom.”

For Centurions the memory of Fabian Franklin focuses on three pictures: first, and most characteristic, an urbane patriarch, with luminous eyes, holding the close attention of a group of men as he dissects some political or economic fallacy; second, a white-bearded scholar rapidly setting down his burning thoughts at a writing table in our Library, with his old legs comfortably wrapped in a shawl; third, a mellow-voiced mischievous New Year’s Eve soloist extracting all the juice from the chaste ballad “Kerfoozalem,” supported by a deafening chorus of Centurions.

Geoffrey Parsons
1939 Century Memorials