Franklin Randolph Mansfield died Saturday, September 8, 2018. He was 88 years old. A native of Fayetteville, Tenn., Randy was a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., where he received his bachelor's degree in economics. After serving in the Army in the Korean War, Randy worked toward his master's degree in business at the University of Tennessee. He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He was also a member of Rotary Club of Knoxville, Men's Cotillion Club, Sons of the Revolution, Knox Heritage and First Families of Tennessee, as well as First Presbyterian Church, where he served as both Deacon and Elder. Randy also served on the Knoxville Opera board and was instrumental in the development of Knoxville's nascent opera community.
Most of Randy's career was spent in retail, as a manager with J.C. Penney and then the Ira A. Watson Co., where he was a vice president and manager of Watson's on Market Square. Randy was active in Knoxville's earliest downtown revitalization efforts, serving as president of the Downtown Knoxville Association. He loved the eclectic downtown community and his loyal Watson's customers, who came from near and far to discover the wonders of Watson's Bargain Basement and the myriad salvage purchases of designer clothes, elegant home furnishings and, of course, fur coats.
After retirement from Watson's, Randy built a thriving second career in residential real estate with the John P. Carter Co. and later with Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace. He loved old houses, historic properties and architecture. He was able to see the bones of a home and envision its potential for prospective homeowners, who loved the passion he brought to each and every project. He treated each family as his own and each house as a labor of love.
Randy loved people and their stories and their lives. He loved art and politics and parties. Randy was a pretty good bridge player but not nearly as good as his wife. He worked the crossword puzzle every day, even when solving it called for creative spelling. An avid reader, Randy devoured books, periodicals and newspapers right up until his last days. He had an insatiable curiosity about everything, which made him the world's best listener, advisor and friend. His work ethic was legendary, and his mind sharp. He was an unrelenting optimist, even in the face of profound sadness, illness and suffering. He rose to every occasion, kept his promises and loved his family with all his heart. He was the quintessential Southern gentleman.
Randy was preceded in death by his parents, Lillian Kirby Mansfield and Francis Randolph "Beau" Mansfield, of Fayetteville and his wife and soulmate of 59 years, Jennie D. Keeling Mansfield of Knoxville. He is survived by their children, Keeling Christiansen and husband Jeff of Memphis, Laura Mansfield of Knoxville, and Randolph Mansfield, Jr. and wife Sara of Jacksonville, Fla.; grandchildren Charles Christiansen and wife Hannah of Memphis, Jeffery Christiansen of Memphis, Mac Bower of Knoxville, and Morgan Mansfield of Birmingham, Ala.; and great-grandson, Caleb Christiansen. He is also survived by his half-sister, Marynelle McKinley of Nashville.
The family wishes to thank the compassionate caregivers of Tennova Hospice and Shannondale Assisted Living for their tender and attentive care.
Interment will be at Highland Memorial Cemetery with the Rev. Dr. William Pender officiating a graveside service Thursday, September 13, at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, September 12, at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel. Memorial gifts may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 620 State Street, Knoxville, TN 37902. Online condolences may be extended at www.rosemortuary.com