Rewarded With “the Crown of Life”
TO THE angel of the congregation in Smyrna, the apostle John was told to write: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8, 10) Therefore, both sad and joyful is the announcement here made that Frederick William Franz, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., as well as a number of other theocratic bodies, finished his earthly course on the morning of December 22, 1992.
It is a sad announcement in that it tells of the passing off the earthly scene of a very much beloved and outstandingly faithful servant of Jehovah. Yet, it is also a joyful announcement because to our dear Brother Franz now apply the words of Revelation 14:13: “Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.” Brother Franz was modest and humble, a hardworking and very productive minister whom Jehovah God used mightily as a member of “the faithful and discreet slave” to assist in providing spiritual food for the “domestics” and their companions.—Matthew 24:45-47.
Brother Franz was born on September 12, 1893, in Covington, Kentucky. He came in touch with the truth through an older brother. At that time he was attending the University of Cincinnati, preparing to become a Presbyterian minister. Instead, he separated from the Presbyterian Church and became associated with the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called. He was baptized on November 30, 1913, and the following year he left the university and entered the colporteur (pioneer) work. On June 1, 1920, he became a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family. Before long, he was put in charge of the colporteur desk, and in 1926 he was transferred to the editorial department, where he served most prolifically. In 1945 he became vice president of the Watch Tower Society and other associated bodies. Upon the death of then president Nathan H. Knorr in 1977, he became the president of the Watch Tower Society. He served in that capacity until his death. In his lifetime, Brother Franz saw the number of Witnesses of Jehovah increase from a few thousand to some four and a half million. He enjoyed many privileges of service, including speaking at international conventions and visiting branches and missionary homes in many parts of the world. His life story appeared in the May 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower.
On Monday evening, December 28, 1992, a memorial service was held in the Kingdom Hall of Brooklyn Bethel. A very warm and spiritually upbuilding talk was delivered by Brother Albert D. Schroeder of the Governing Body. Tied in by telephone were the Bethel families at Watchtower Farms, Patterson, Mountain Farm, and Kingdom Farm, as well as the Bethel family at the Canada branch.
All, especially those who worked closely with him, will greatly miss Brother Franz. He was understanding, encouraging, and patient toward everyone with whom he served and traveled. Truly, fellow believers responded to him in the spirit of Hebrews 13:7: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”
On December 30, 1992, Brother Milton G. Henschel was chosen as the Society’s fifth president, to succeed Brother Franz.
[Pictures on pages 31, 32]
Frederick W. Franz in 1913
At the Society’s Myrtle Avenue factory in 1920
With Nathan H. Knorr at Yankee Stadium in 1953