News Column

Carolyn Franklin: Interior designer was always on a quest for new ideas

May 6, 2014

By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel



May 06--When Carolyn Franklin traveled the world, she was on a quest for ideas. Each place she visited, she studied the history, absorbed the architecture and embraced the culture.

Upon her return, she put what she had gathered to work: "She would bring those ideas back and implement them in the creative design of the custom homes she was involved in creating here," said her daughter Jennifer Franklin.

Carolyn Franklin, longtime owner of Carolyn Franklin Interior Design in Winter Park, was a strong-willed adventurer, a brilliant designer, a devoted mother and a tenacious businesswoman, according to friends, family and former colleagues.

Franklin died Saturday. She was 82.

Franklin hailed from Kansas City, Mo. An only child, she was forced to learn to be independent early, after her mother contracted polio when Carolyn was only 5 years old, Jennifer Franklin said.

Among her first jobs as a teenager was as a docent at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, family said. She married her high-school sweetheart, William "Bill" Franklin, and they moved their family to Central Florida in 1967.

Carolyn Franklin's ascent in the region's design industry began at Mills & Nebraska, one of Bill Franklin's lumber suppliers, which was starting a design division. Because the design side was new, the company offered Carolyn Franklin an hourly wage rather than a commission like other employees. But she didn't want to be treated differently, Bill Franklin recalled.

Not long afterward, she was making "a great deal more money than they were," he said. By the mid-1970s, she had started her own firm.

In 1984, Carolyn Franklin met Linda Pellegrini of Pellegrini Homes. "We built, designed and decorated some absolutely fabulous homes," Pellegrini recalls. "She was one of the most talented people I know ... not only a very dear friend, but a great mentor."

Pellegrini said Franklin's strengths were her vast knowledge and her ability to design to her clients' tastes.

"She could do any style," Pellegrini said.

Added Bill Franklin: "She was a great student of architecture."

She was also involved in the philanthropic community, an active Christian Scientist and supporter of the Central Florida Women's League. She had a voracious appetite for knowledge, her friends and family said.

"She encouraged us each and every day to follow our passions, which she had in spades," her daughter said.

Travel was one such passion. Chloe Manchester, her frequent companion, fondly recalled their trips together. Though the always-opinionated Franklin occasionally led them off the beaten path, it was always an adventure, Manchester said.

"She loved doing what we were doing," Manchester said. "History and architecture was her thing, her forte."

A prominent voice in the local design scene, Franklin was often quoted in the Orlando Sentinel for her expertise in decor. In a November 2006 story, she explained the benefit of leaving the state or country to find a touch of the exotic.

The objective, she said, is to find "a way of giving unique individuality to a home."

In addition to her husband of 38 years and daughter Jennifer, Franklin is survived by son Stephen Franklin; daughters Deborah Franklin and Catherine Franklin; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Mountain View Funeral Home in Blairsville, Ga., is handling arrangements.

jeweiner@tribune.com or 407-420-5171407-420-5171

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Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)