Lena T. FranklinJanuary 10, 1928 ~ November 24, 2017 (age 89)
A Life Well Lived
“What’s up doc!”
January 10, 1928, ten days into a leap year, Lena Thelma Franklin was born; the second daughter born to Edward C. Dodson and Lena Moorman. After the death of her mother at the age of 2, Lena grew up in a multigenerational family home on 532 Seddon Ave, with her maternal grandparents Samuel and Hattie Moorman, her older sister Eileen Dodson (Hunter); her sister-cousins Jean and Dorothy Price, her Uncle Raymond Price and Aunt Beatrice Moorman Price, and her Uncle Bolden Moorman. She also was loved by her paternal family, sharing love and life with her cousins Simeon, Joan and Cecelia Velar. This family filled home would instill in her a genuine and steadfast love for her family, a solid work ethic, a heart for helping people and faithfulness. Lena was dedicated to the development of the General Braddock area; working for over 70 years in Braddock while making her home in North Braddock.
Lena was a product of Scott High School. She furthered her education at Community College of Allegheny County, South Campus gaining an Associates in Personnel Administration and Communications (1976). Jaison’s Clothing store is where she began what would be a lifelong service to Braddock, Pa as a Coordinator of Sportswear. It was here where she truly began to work with and for others, taking her time to get to know someone before recommending an outfit that would fit the whole person perfectly. Lena knew clothes and was sharp as a tack. She had a gift for helping and caring for people that would support her at Jaisons for 13 years. These gifts, her pursuit of excellence and her strong work ethic would serve her well when she began her career as a Job Developer; a calling she thrived in for over 44 years, landing thousands in tailor made employment.
A love for God and a heart for serving Him began in New Hope Baptist Church in Braddock, Pa. Lena accepted Jesus Christ as her savior and was baptized in 1936 by the late Rev. George Harvey. She remained an active member of New Hope for 63 years. She served as an usher for 40 years, became one of the first female trustees in 1990, acted as Joint Board Secretary, chaired the church anniversary for 10 years, worked as a member of the Willing Workers, and the New Hope Multi-Center to name a few. In 2010, Lena would leave New Hope to join with her pastor Rev. Michael E. Thomas, Sr. to become a founding member of Just Right Ministries; where she would serve faithfully as an Usher, Deaconess, and Trustee, until her passing.
Lena served on many boards within her community: the Forbes East Vocational School Board, Turtle Creek Valley Human Service Board and the Board of New Choices. She was also a member of several organizations including: Secretary of Eastern Area NAACP under acting President La Rue Frederick, and the Guardians of Greater Pittsburgh in the 1970’s; as well as a member of the Western Pennsylvania Black Political Assembly. Lena was the standard bearer for her field. Her excellence in Job Developing and servicing four generations of Allegheny County residents was honored by the Private Industry Council, Eastern Star, Talk Magazine and the National Council of Negro Women. In 1992, she received a proclamation from Allegheny County for outstanding job developing. In 2014, Lena was featured in the documentary “Braddock America” where she spoke on her loves: Braddock and Job developing; and was the subject of many newspaper articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tribune Review, Pittsburgh Courier and the City Paper.
On September 16, 2017, Lena was recognized as a phenomenal woman by the East Boro NAACP. She would put on her 3 ½ inch heels for the last time to walk the floor of the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville, and receive the Catalyst Award for being a cause for community change through her work as an outstanding job developer.
In 1946, Lena met and married E.T. Harper; although their union was brief and yielded no children, Lena gained a close and loving relationship in the Harper and Akmal Families. Lena loved to gather with her family and friends around a table for bid whist. It would be at one of these tables where she would meet her husband Carol “Billy” Franklin. They were married on January 27,1951 at home by the late Rev. David Wilson. During their 40-year union, they babysat, housed and nurtured many of their young family members, including but not limited to: their niece Toni Lynch, cousins Rometta “Peachie” Thompson, Simeon, Gaye and Gina Velar, Dale, Dwight and DeWayne Smith, and Raphael Losada, before bringing into this world two of their very own: Lisa and Karl Franklin.
Lena worked until she was stricken with aspiration pneumonia at age 86. Refusing to leave behind the job she so dearly loved, she continued to find employment for others even from her hospital bed. It was this ailment that set the stage for a three-year period of chronic illness. The sickness may have physically slowed Lena but her love for life and family would help her to persevere until she was called home on the afternoon of November 24, 2017.
Lena was preceded in death by her husband Carol “Billy” Franklin, her sister Eileen Hunter, her parents Edward Dodson and Lena Moorman; her grandparents Samuel and Hattie Moorman, her sister cousins Dorothy Price Carson and Jean Price Garland and longtime companion Arthur R. Douglas. She is survived by Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin; by her two children Lisa Franklin-Robinson (Lawrence Robinson Jr.) and her son Karl Franklin; daughter- niece Toni R. Hill (Robert), sister-cousins Joan and Cecelia Velar and daughter-cousins Rometta Thompson (James), Gaye Velar and Gina Velar. Her legacy includes 5 grandchildren: Abriana Mitchell (Michael Mitchell Jr.), Taylor Leeper, Adam Leeper, Dorian Robinson and Lawrence Robinson III; 2 Step grandchildren: Maurice Kirkland (Ebony), Brandon Anderson; 2 great grandchildren Marley Mitchell, Michael Mitchell III and a host of relatives and friends.
She will be missed by her community but so much more by her family. Demonstrating the powerful impact one woman in 3 ½ inch heels can have on the lives of so many.