On December 20, 2002, a generous gift was made to the Institute of the Environment for the Center for Tropical Research. The gift eventually will create the E.P. and Betty Franklin Endowed Fund in Tropical Conservation. UCLA planned giving staff worked closely with donor Betty Franklin, to establish a Life Estate Gift Annuity. This gift arrangement enables Betty to give a gift of her home of 56 years to The UCLA Foundation while continuing to live in and enjoy it. Betty will receive lifetime annuity payments, and after her lifetime, her gift will benefit the Center for Tropical Research.
CTR gratefully acknowledges the generosity of donor, Betty Franklin. In order to get to know our benefactor a bit more, we asked Betty to give us a little background on her life and interests, and tell us a about her late husband, E.P. Betty graciously responded with the following written account for our newsletter and website:
Betty and E. P. Franklin
On April 19, 1917: I was born in Westwood, Lassen County. It's a small California town, near Lake Alamanor, Susanville, and not too far from Nevada and was owned by the Red River Lumber Company and featured one dentist-my dad. I grew up being fascinated with his medical books and planned on eventually doing scientific research. But a talent for acting took precedence and all through grade and high school, I was doing something on stage.
After graduating, my father, now divorced from my mom, insisted that I pursue a higher education. But a friend and I with whom I'd appeared in Bay Area little theater performances, were offered something irresistible. We were invited to join a New York repertory company, founded by leading actors from the famed Moscow Art Theater. A challenging audition was required, and both of us were accepted.
The Stanislavsky Method of acting (still prevalent in theater arts) was what our group featured. It was complex, disciplined-in itself a veritable philosophy for living. In fact, I considered it to be comparable to an academic education. So I was motivated to disappoint my dad and follow my bliss. We studied day and night, day in, day out, for four years-poor and hungry, but dedicated.
Finally our director considered us ready to find a backer for a Broadway presentation, which was accomplished. Then we rehearsed for another full year, before appearing at the Vanderbilt Theater. The play by August Strindberg was mystical and in no way acceptable to the denizens of Manhattan at that time. In other words, it was a huge flop, much publicized in local reviews and not "damned with faint praise", but damned with headlines.
Our group was devastated and destroyed. But with the help of a member of our former group, I was given very brief lines in major radio shows of the time, such as Gang Busters, and Mr. District Attorney. During that period, I got to know very talented actors, many of whom went on to TV and movies. In a while, I found work in the garment district, modeling flimsy coats in the icy New York winters and vice versa in summer months. I wasn't a very good model, but the four brother owners like me and decided I could best serve them by writing their correspondence for which I had more talent.
Eventually, after all the years of struggling, I was homesick and returned to Westwood for a family visit. But getting employment was still a factor, so the Bay Area was my next destination. There I met a radio station salesman, who urged me to consider becoming an off-the-beaten path personality, writing scripts about exploring special shops, to be broadcast on what was then KJBS, where he worked. I followed the suggestion, waited and waited and finally consulted a former Westwood friend, involved in the broadcast industry. He assured me that the KJ format-a very successful one-was exclusively news and music and then and there phoned the manager, Ed Franklin, saying I was on my way to talk with him.
I marched in, submitted my manuscripts, only to learn that what my friend had said was true, even though manager Franklin complimented my efforts. He asked if I could write advertising copy, to which I boldly replied, 'certainly.' It wasn't true, but I had to believe I could do it. And I did-at Ed's best friend's advertising agency. The job went well and I learned valuable new skills which bolstered faith in myself.
Ray Sines, my new boss often predicted that Elizabeth Edwards (my maiden name) and E.P. Franklin would marry. This amazed me because there had been no evidence of that. Finally, the handsome hunk, considered to be a great catch, invited me to dinner and a play, at which time we both made it clear that marriage for us was out of the question, because we wanted to pursue careers. As it turned out, that first date was on July 1st, 1941 and we said our vows on the following August 15th!
After the whirlwind courtship, I was to learn that I'd married a remarkable man, beautiful inside and out. And I was blessed with him, this lovely property which we found together, and 30 shared years until Eepie suddenly passed away on December 4, 1971. He was only 63. Tributes coming to me from many sources, emphasized how respected, admired and loved he was.
We had become passionately involved in environmental matters, triggered when a deer-kill was planned on the Tamalpais game refuge, where our home was and is situated. Because of Eepie's popularity within broadcast and print media, we had important access to them and became increasingly caught up in crusading for a safer environment, freer from toxic substances, especially those from industrial stacks. And we became recognized nationwide, as an effective team.
After my husband's death, I was invited to write for Prevention magazine, briefly, until the editor left for a competitive publication, Let's LIVE. He asked me to come along, which I did, originally specializing in rather staid scientific articles. But it was rewarding to have health professionals thank me for making a rhetorical bridge between scientific jargon and lay persons' understanding of it. When asked to do a more informal column, I was delighted, named it "Of Many Things," and it was published every month for all those years, becoming quite popular.
Writing for Let's LIVE magazine continued from 1974 until just several years ago. I miss the privilege of sharing information, but so many maintenance projects here where I've lived since Halloween in 1947, keep me busy from mid-morning until early next day. Being 85, I've slowed down a bit and everything takes longer. After a five year drought, I began feeding starving deer and raccoons and sometimes foxes-even skunks. Now they all hang out here and I'm totally obligated, so I don't travel, which is no problem. If "civilization" hadn't ruthlessly encroached upon their habitats, feeding them would be wrong, but I feel they're owed a little help. They've become my family-not pets, but great friends. And of course, the wonderful wild birds get special seed and nectar. I also cherish two little dogs-Holly and Ariel.
Now, I'm finding great fulfillment in knowing that this lovely land will serve a good cause, when I pass on. And it was my contact with Professor Thomas B. Smith, of the UCLA Center for Tropical Research-involving several serendipity aspects that assured me it was a green-light decision. Moreover, it was one, I believe, that would be fully endorsed by my husband (and one in which, I think, his spirit rejoices). How urgent it has become that dedicated researchers discover why so many precious species of plants and animals are vanishing, and in so doing, help to both save and restore them!
Various persons from the University have come to visit me and letters-even from the Chancellor-warmly express their appreciation of the gift. I treasure those responses and hope some part of me will be aware, after death, of whatever help has been contributed to the Center for Tropical Research of the UCLA Institute of the Environment.