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Charles Franklin, 68, Prominent D.C.-Area Physician, Dies

6/5/2014, 11 p.m.
Charles Franklin and wife Alexis Herman (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Lionel Franklin, a prominent D.C.-area physician, died June 2 after an extended illness. He was 68.

His wife is former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman, who is CEO of Washington-based New Ventures, Inc.

For more than 35 years, Franklin was a family physician who maintained a practice in Silver Spring, Maryland, serving some of Washington's most prominent individuals.

Franklin was renowned for fighting for fairness and justice for everyone while also actively building awareness about health issues. He was at the forefront of the discussion on HIV/AIDS and diabetes prevention, hosting a local radio talk show to reach audiences beyond his patients.

Born in D.C., the McKinley Tech High School graduate's interests ranged from painting to playing the clarinet. He was an avid collector of trains, movies, model ships and records.

His mother, Madeline DeLoach Franklin, was a public school teacher and accomplished pianist, while his father, Dr. Charles L. Franklin, was the first African-American economist to serve at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Franklin's passion for justice and fairness began while at McKinley and continued during his undergraduate years at Howard University. After he was elected student body president in the late-1960s, Franklin rallied students at historically black colleges and universities to fight for the same press coverage as other schools.

As a result of his advocacy of black college football, The Washington Post began publishing the scores and highlights of black college sports, his actions spurring The Post to name him as the top promoter of the school's athletic department.

He was also instrumental in getting D.C.'s bus system to change the name of the buses on Howard's campus route from LeDroit Park to Howard University, in accordance with city bus routes named for other colleges and universities.

After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in 1967, Franklin attended Howard's medical school, earning his degree in 1971. From 1971 to 1974, he did his medical residency in internal medicine at the U.S. Coast Guard's Public Health Service Hospital in Staten Island, New York, and the outpatient clinic in D.C., achieving a final rank of senior assistant surgeon.

That service was followed by a residency at Howard University in obstetrics and gynecology from 1974 to 1975, and a family practice fellowship at Howard from 1975 to 1976. He also worked in the university's Employee Health Physician and Emergency Room medical office.

In 1976, he opened his family medicine practice in Silver Spring, with medical privileges at Howard Montgomery General, Howard, Holy Cross Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital, where he served on the board as acting chair of the Family Practice Department. He also served on the Medical Records Committee at Howard University Hospital.

He is survived his wife, Alexis M. Herman; two daughters, Sharath Franklin Smith and Michelle Franklin; a son, Charles J. Franklin; a son-in-law, Jeffery Smith; two grandchildren, Brian and David Smith; two sisters, Dr. Dolores Mercedes Franklin and Estelle Dian Franklin; and numerous family members and friends.

Funeral services will be held June 9 at Dunbarton Chapel on the Howard University Law School campus in Northwest D.C. The family viewing starts at 9 a.m. with services following at 11 a.m.