Lakewood Boy Scouts have lost what many are calling a legend in Richard Franco, the longtime scoutmaster of Troop 64 who died earlier this month.
His sister, Susan Franco Cordova, said on Facebook that he died peacefully at his home May 5.
“He was a wonderful son, brother, father, godfather, uncle, friend, scoutmaster and humanitarian,” Cordova said. “He loved God, his family, Boy Scout Troop 64 and his Woodrow Wildcat family. We are comforted that he is no longer suffering, but we miss him so. Please keep us in your prayers in the coming days.”
Franco, a Woodrow Wilson alumnus, led Lakewood’s storied troop for roughly three decades. The troop is known for leading Lakewood’s Fourth of July parade, feeding thousands of families at the annual spaghetti dinner and volunteering at local schools and philanthropies.
“At this time in a young man’s life, he is coming of age,” Franco said in a 1997 interview with the Advocate. “He needs as much positive male influence as possible. It means a lot to a young boy to know that he has someone who not only cares about him, but participates in activities with him as well.”
Those who knew Franco remember him as a dedicated scoutmaster who was passionate about teaching boys about the outdoors and making a positive impact on their lives.
“Rick was scouting inside and out,” neighbor Deborah Foxx Stewart said. “Ask him about scouting commands, and he’d rattle them off. He knew a lot of inner-city kids don’t always get out in nature. That was his main focus. I can’t say enough about the impact he’s had on my family, Troop 64 and Lakewood.”
Stewart met Franco more than 10 years ago when she was den leader of her son’s Cub Scouts troop. Most of those boys have gone on to reach the rank of Eagle Scout. Her son, Eddie, is completing his project — an interactive discovery zone in the Lakewood Outdoor Learning Area — and is expected to become an Eagle Scout later this year.
“Rick was instrumental in all of that,” Stewart said. “He has crossed over more boys and seen them through to Eagle Scout more than I can even recall. Eddie wanted Rick to be there when he got his Eagle Scout, but we’ll do a special tribute to Rick during the ceremony.”
Franco stepped down as scoutmaster in 2018 because of his declining health, but he continued going to some meetings and events. Jay Small succeeded him as scoutmaster.
A memorial service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. June 6 at St. Philip’s United Methodist Church in Garland.
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