From left to right, Scott Little, formerly with Monterey Financial Services; Tom Franks; Bob Steinke, chairman of Monterey Financial Services; Herb Lyles, president of HSMM Financial.

The first president of ARDA (1989 to 1997) Thomas C. Franks, passed away on December 17, 2016, at the age of 63, a victim of heart failure. Resort Trades asked several of his friends to share their memories of Tom.

Monterey Financial Services Executive Chairman Robert Steinke offered his thoughts. “I started a new company in 1990 and reached out to Tom, although he and I had not met, and arranged for us to meet in the ensuing months. Tom went out of his way to come to California and meet us at Monterey. We soon became best friends and ended up purchasing several properties in Annapolis.

“Well, most of us who got to know Tom knew he was a bit ‘egocentric’ and knew he wanted to be the center of attention. During one of the 100 or so times that we traveled or had dinner together I remember one event: Four of us were staying in a four-bedroom unit at a timeshare in Orlando getting ready for either dinner or a timeshare party. As I was headed to my room I heard someone singing to themselves. As I passed the guest bathroom I observed Tom singing into the mirror saying the following, ‘You are so handsome and good looking,’ over and over. For anyone who knew Tom, this would not be surprising. I started laughing and couldn’t stop.

From left to right, Scott Little, formerly with Monterey Financial Services; Tom Franks; Bob Steinke, chairman of Monterey Financial Services; Herb Lyles, president of HSMM Financial.

“He was undoubtedly one of the best salesman I have ever encountered and had a great heart.
“I still do financing for Tom and his partners’ [Mark Monroe and Steve LaMantia] company and I will surely miss him.

One of Tom’s partners, Outfield Resort Group Managing Partner Steve LaMantia says, “Tom was introduced to me through a mutual friend in the industry back in the summer of 2001 and we formed our company Outfield in February of 2002, with myself, Tom and Mark Monroe. I will miss Tom’s infinite wisdom, insight into people, his charm and charisma. Tom was an inspiration to me and Mark as well.”

Industry iconic pioneer Ed McMullin, Sr., RRP, writes, “Tom followed Gary Terry and helped build the newly formed ARDA out of the previous ALDA ( American Land Development Association). Tom helped us all lay the basic ground work for ARDA nationally and internationally. He was a leader and champion for ARDA in the increasingly important legal and regulatory involvement nation- wide for ARDA during 1989-1997, as well as helped develop many of the early ARDA committees that pulled the world-wide industry together. I was elected ARDA chairman in 1997 and the first day of my chairmanship, Tom came to Florida and met with me and resigned as ARDA president to start his own private business. It was a real shock at the time for our new elected team , but he committed many hours to support to us all and to Cynthia Huheey ( who took over as the association president) and me to keep ARDA on track.

“I was honored to have worked with Tom for many years. My life is better for knowing him and having spent so much time with him,” Cynthia comments. “Tom was a high energy person. He was very creative and was always selling. He trusted his staff to do their job while he did his. He participated, but ultimately, he trusted the capabilities of his staff and only interjected his viewpoint when he had something to add. Tom loved visiting with the members. He had created a special network and, depending on the issue, he knew exactly who he should reach out to get ‘buy in.’ He was, at heart, a politician and used that skill with great finesse.”

ARDA SVP, Federal Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Sandra “Sam” Yartin DePoy RRP worked with Franks at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), before Tom joined ALDA. She says, “I can tell you – while at NAR and definitely at ARDA — he was quite an influential lobbyist. He had so much energy and charisma and there wasn’t a Member of Congress that I can recall who did not welcome him into their offices.

DePoy adds a personal note: “I have known Tom, his wife Mary and their daughter Jordan. I was at his funeral and time can only heal their incredible loss. Tom LOVED Frank Sinatra and “Fly me to the Moon” was played at his funeral as his final send off.

“Tom was so easy to talk with and conversation never stopped with him,” adds Huheey. “He was engaging and always seemed interested in what others had to say. And he had a wonderful smile.”

His was a smile that will certainly be missed throughout the coming years. We wish to send his friends and family our condolences from all of us at Resort Trades.