Remembering Ryan FranklinPublished by Michael Schuler Dec 1st 2017
The ring of basketballs and squeak of dozens of shoes fill the gym at Lighthouse Christian School in Twin Falls.
As people from around South-Central Idaho warm up they move back and forth right over an imprint on the wood court. It’s the Ryan Franklin Court. The players were his former teammates and players from years of playing and coaching basketball. They’re playing in the Ryan Franklin memorial game.
Amie and Ryan met while he was playing at a small bible college in Oregon.
Ryan was a skilled basketball player and Amie was a scorekeeper.
Ryan was a young guard from Red Bluff California. David Odell, Ryan’s best friend and teammate at Multnomah College recalls his reputation. Odell says people misread him at first. He walked with a swagger, often with his hat backwards and listened to hip-hop music. Odell says people often thought he was “too cool for school.”
“He was one of the most genuine, kindest guys you could ever meet.”
Ryan connected with people. He had friendships and he kept them.
Odell talked with him often. When he found out there may be complications with his unborn daughter Ryan was the first person he called. Ryan talked him through what proved to be one of the toughest times for Odell.
“I loved him like a brother,” Odell said.
When his daughter was born healthy Ryan was among the first people Odell told. He called his best friend in tears and was texting him back and forth all day.
“Just celebrating together.”
Odell lived in Oregon still, Ryan in Idaho. That distance didn’t seem to matter for their friendship.
Amie was from South-Central Idaho. When they moved back there Ryan started teaching at a christian school called Lighthouse.
“He was a very gentle and kind of quiet person,” said Kevin Newbry, Lighthouse’s superintendent
Staring into the corner of his office Newbry remembers Ryan’s teaching style. His quiet and gentle personality worked in his favor when it came to relating to his middle-school students.
“Kids were really able to connect with him,” Newbry said.
Ryan coached the basketball team as well. One of the best Amie had ever seen.
“The way he analyzed the game was amazing,” she recalled.
He continued helping coach the team even when he left the school for a job at the Twin Falls Fire Department. A move Newbry said made sense.
“He just wanted to serve in a greater capacity,”
He fit in there really well. For three years he worked in close quarters with fellow firefighters. In that time he became one of the best coworkers at the station. Those he worked with raved about how hard-working, selfless, funny and trustworthy he was.
“I wish everybody was like him,” Scott Seigworth, a captain on Ryan’s shift said. “I wish I was more like him.”
The day he died was a terrible day for the firefighters. Trainings were cancelled and they called everyone into break the news.
“It was very devastating to the department,” said Mitchell Brooks, Ryan’s battalion chief. “Even though he was only here three years it felt like 30.”
The department turned their attention to Amie and the couple’s four children. His death sent shockwaves through the community.
Cyclists across the region held a memorial ride. The school held counseling sessions for the students. The fire department put on a fundraiser with a local coffee shop for Ryan’s family. And when the day came, thousands of people were at the funeral.
Church members, firefighters, cyclists, teachers, basketball players even Starbucks employees in his hometown in California.
“I’ve not seen many memorial services that sell attended,” Odell said. “I’ve not seen that many people have that big of an impact.”
More than a year after Ryan’s fingerprints are all around the fire department still. A framed picture of him hangs above the roster of firefighters. A quote board hangs in the hallway with a signature toothpick sticking out to commemorate his habit. On the clipboard that lists who’s on shift, Ryan Franklin’s name is perched permanently on top.
“He still rides with us,” Brooks said.