I've tried four times to start typing this and keep erasing it because I don't know what to say about such awful news. Yesterday, Dennis Franklin, the man we call The Plant Doctor, was found dead in his car at an area supermarket.
I met Dennis when he began writing a column for The Beaumont Enterprise. I got to know him well because I edited his columns for quite some time. During that time, Dennis endured major hardships. Hurricane Ike put 6 feet of water in his Orange home. He lost pretty much everything. Months later, his father, from whom Dennis inherited his love of plants and whom he adored, died. Dennis was by his side the entire time he was in the hospital, even when his father no longer recognized him. He continued to turn in his column, true to the professional he was.
Two weeks ago, Dennis taught a class at the Jefferson County Master Gardeners course. I learned even more about him there. Dennis was a powerhouse of knowledge on anything and everything to do with plants. His seminar was amazing, a combination of knowledge, energy, humor and a love of growing things. I respected him more than ever after spending a day absorbing everything I could on what he had to offer.
I still can't believe he died. He was 57, energetic, active and always had a positive attitude, even when things went wrong. He sent me an email thanking me for a note I sent when his father died. It was a gentle, lovely, appreciative response to something that mattered a great deal to him.
Dennis touched many thousands of lives. He wrote the column for the Enterprise, hosted a radio show on KLVI and answered questions for gardeners with problems at M&D Supply each Saturday, in addition to the other jobs he held and as a plant and tree consultant. I have no doubt people were lined up at M&D to see him this morning, only to be told the sad news.
Dennis was a kind man. A gentleman who would do anything he could for others to help make their gardening experience richer. He had the most voracious appetite for knowledge I've ever encountered. His influence is making me a better gardener and I am grateful for that.
I will miss you, Dennis. Thank you for your enormous contributions to the gardening community and to your family and friends.