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Lucinda Franks Dies at 74; Prize-Winning Journalist Broke Molds | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Lucinda Franks Dies at 74; Prize-Winning Journalist Broke Molds

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In 2017, when the media was flooded with women’s stories of sexual harassment, Ms. Franks wrote an opinion essay for The Times in which she recalled her male colleagues’ snub over her Pulitzer.

“Grateful to win a place in the hierarchy of power,” she wrote, “we didn’t understand the ways that gender degradation still shaped our work lives.”

Lucinda Laura Franks was born on July 16, 1946, in Chicago. Her family soon moved to Wellesley, Mass. Her mother, Lorraine Lois (Leavitt) Franks, was involved in civic activities, including as president of the Wellesley Junior Service League. Her father, Thomas E. Franks, was vice president of a metals company.

While growing up, Ms. Franks found her parents’ marriage grim, she wrote, and left home as soon as possible. She went to Vassar, where she majored in English and steeped herself in the counterculture. After graduating in 1968, she left for London.

Her mother died in 1976, and Ms. Franks had little contact with her father. She learned that he had been unfaithful to her mother, was a heavy drinker and over time had become nearly penniless. And only toward the end of his life (he died in 2002), while moving him out of his clut­tered house in Milford, Mass., did she discover, to her shock, boxes of Nazi paraphernalia and cryp­tic doc­u­ments. He had been a secret agent during World War II, she found, an experience, she would learn, that had tormented him.

As a former spy, he had been sworn to secrecy. But Alzheimer’s was eating away at his memory, and under his daughter’s relentless questioning, he revealed his secrets. He had posed as a Nazi guard. He had slipped behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps. He had been flown to Ohrdruf — a subcamp of Buchenwald and the first concentration camp liberated by the Allies — and reported on the atrocities that had been committed there. He had executed two men.


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