It was the worst news that any father could get just hours before the nation started celebrating dads everywhere.
Stanley Franklin Sr., president of the NAACP East St. Louis branch, and his wife Ronda Franklin learned that one of their five children had died in Macomb where he had just started a job. They are awaiting autopsy results Monday, but they think their son, Stanley Franklin Jr., 25, the oldest of their children, may have died from a brain aneurysm.
Franklin Jr., who graduated from East St. Louis Senior High School in District 189 in 2007, went on to Tennessee State University.
He graduated in May with a civil engineering degree and had been working with the Illinois Department of Transportation in a summer job for approximately two weeks, Franklin Sr. said.
Stanley Franklin Jr. called his mother Saturday morning to tell her he had a terrible, throbbing headache. His mother thought it could be related to allergies and told him to take some medicine and lay down a while.
Ronda Franklin told her son that she would call him back shortly to check on him. A couple of hours later, when he had not called — as he usually did when he was sick to say he felt better — she called him. She got no answer.
After several more calls, she told his dad that she was worried that something might be wrong and that she wanted to go to Macomb. He agreed, but first thought it best to have the Macomb Police Department check on their son's well-being.
"I called the Police Department and told the officer that my son had just graduated from college in May and was in Macomb working a summer job with the Illinois Department of Transportation and that my wife had been calling to check on him and we weren't getting an answer on his phone. I asked them to check on him," Franklin Sr. said.
"My son just graduated in May from Tennessee State University. It's the worst news that a father could get, or any of the family for that matter. Me, my wife and one of my other sons fell apart when a deputy from the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department gave us the news that he was dead," Franklin Sr. said.
"It was unbelievable, and horrifying. After numerous attempts to reach him, I decided to call ahead to the Macomb Police Department and have the police to check of his apartment. I provided them with the description of his vehicle, a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer.
"They went there and found it. But, when the police knocked on the door, they got no answer. They had to call the landlord to enter the apartment and someone would call me back in 15 minutes. When I called back, they told me the ambulance was there and they would call me back in 15 minutes. I waited and when they didn't call back when they said they would, I called them back. They said an ambulance was still there. I asked if my son was all right. They said they would call back in five minutes."
After he couldn't get any information on his son, the elder Franklin called the Police Department back to let them know he was on his way there. They insisted a couple of times that he return home.
"They told me the sheriff was coming to my home to talk to me," Franklin said.
"He is my oldest child, and my namesake. He was young and a hard-working, determined young man. He had some challenges while studying for his civil engineering degree, and his dad asked him why didn't he get his degree in math or something else."
Franklin Jr. told his dad civil engineering was what he wanted to do.
"I told him I believed in him and that I knew he could do it. We have to be supportive and encouraging of our children," Franklin Sr. said.
"Once he put his mind to something, he was determined to accomplish it. An example of what I mean is, on graduation day it rained. Many of the students started leaving after their names were called. It looked bad that they were leaving. Stan sat through the whole ceremony -- rain and all -- until the end of the ceremony. When we asked him why he didn't leave like the other students he said 'Dad, I worked too hard for this day. I wanted to savor every moment. I wanted to go through this whole ceremony. I did it Dad. I did it,' " Franklin recalled.
Franklin and his son were extremely close, he said.
"When he was younger and while I was chairman of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity's youth program, my son and all of his friends were a part of it. It was so much fun for us. And, while I was president of the Parent Teacher's Organization for 10 years, he was very active in a lot of things with me. I am proud of my son. I love him and I know he knew I loved him," Franklin said.
Franklin said he is thankful for the time he had with his son. He said it is important to hug your children and to tell them as often as you can that you love them because you never know how long they or you have on this earth.
Asked what he thinks is a father's role with his children, Franklin said, "To be there for them, to raise and guide them with morals, principles and values, and to instill in them family values. A father should also teach his children that they must be grounded in faith; believe in God. They should also be taught to do things that are family oriented, including family vacations and other things."