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  • "Rod, I am so sorry to hear the news of your Dad's passing...."
    - Bernadette
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FRANZ, Reed 85, passed away Dec. 10, 2012. His birthday was Dec. 31, 1926, and he was the younger son of seven children born to Ruben and Lillian Franz on a farm in Freedom, PA, attending a one room school. He served in the U. S. Navy and worked in a steel mill for two years before enrolling at Pennsylvania State University to study animal husbandry. Reed married his college sweetheart, Jane Siefer, and they had a son, Rodney Franz, Sachse, TX; and daughter Diana Franz, Seminole. Reed began a teaching career at Keystone, Fredonia, and Reynolds High Schools, educating students in principles of the Future Farmers of America motto, "Learning to do, Doing to learn, Earning to Live, Living to serve." He went on to earn his Master's Degree in Agriculture Education at Penn State, with his 1964 thesis on tractor safety education. When the severe winters endangered the health of his wife and son, the family moved to the Seminole area in 1965. Reed embarked on a 26 year career teaching horticulture in Pinellas County schools. Many weekend drives with the family revolved around learning all about plants and horticultural practices. His career in Pinellas County began at the Seminole Vocational Education Center and Countryside High School. His fellow teacher, Fred Body, was a mentor and close friend as well as nurseryman Harmon Carroll. He served as FFA advisor at both Seminole Vo-Ed Center and Countryside, living the motto he taught his students. His industrious nature and self-taught knowledge led him to teach night classes for many years and eventually purchase property near the family residence where he kept horses for Jane and he operated a small seasonal plant nursery. Reed was a devoted and loving husband and father. He supported his children with genuine interest, letting each develop their own talents while providing a secure home life. After Jane developed colon cancer, he provided her care and comfort until her passing. Reed met Hildegard Schubert while both were at Pinellas Technical Education Center. They married in 1979 and nurtured their blended family until Hilda lost her struggle with Alzheimers' in 2003. When enrollment in the technical education program declined, he adapted his teaching methods and curriculum to provide training to students in the workplace. The Pinellas County Park Department was fertile ground for courses in irrigation and plant identification. It was during this time he became friends with Floyd Crawford and Pinellas County Extension Service Commercial Horticulture Agents LaRue Robinson and John Alleyne. Reed extended his professional network through his contributions to the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association (FNGA) and the International Society of Arboriculture through which he educated many of the landscapers and arborists in the Tampa Bay area. A highlight was consulting with Loren Westenberger in moving a mammoth live oak tree in downtown Clearwater. Joining the Seminole Kiwanis Club in 1966 cemented Reed's bond to the community, and he found a brotherhood among its members, including Jesse Johnson, Dr. Scott Rose, Gene Mohney, Bill Miller, and Bob Grant. He took the Kiwanis motto of "Serving the children of the world" to heart by developing a focus on the mission of international relations. Both Reed and Hilda then began their involvement with Heifer International and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), a Christian group based in North Fort Meyers, upon their retirement in 1991. His areas of special interest were the development of a PVC pump which would provide water to sustain agriculture in communities of sub-Sahara Africa and development of a carrot which would mature in one growing season. ECHO has named the Umberlandia Reed Franz Improved seed he cultivated in his honor. His grandson, Corey Franz, was often by his side as he worked through the thoughts leading to improvements on both projects. Reed was most rewarded by recognition received from the National Teachers' Association, Inc. as a Teacher of Teachers. Among numerous former students who pursued careers in education is Dr. Milford Hanna of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Department of Food Science and Technology. Awards and recognitions include: Future Farmers of American Honorary Chapter Farmer, Kiwanis International Outstanding Club Leadership as President 1970-71, Kiwanis International Legion of Honor for 40 years, The Dan West Creativity Award 1994, presented by Heifer International, Award of Appreciation to Vocational Agri-business Education in Pinellas County, FNGA Defender of Trees Everywhere Award, and University of Florida recognition for contributions to the Pinellas County Commercial Horticulture Advisory Board. He often quoted Jackie Robinson, saying, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." A quiet man who always had something positive to say, he was happiest when he could make others smile. Reed loved the life God provided him. In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by his sister, Norma Wack, Harmony, PA, Hilda's children; their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family suggests you consider a memorial contribution in Reed's memory to or Information on services may be found at

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Mohn Funeral Home and Cremation Services - Seminole
9700 Seminole Blvd.
Seminole, FL 33772
(727) 393-3481
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Published in the Tampa Bay Times on Dec. 12, 2012