Farewell to a dear friend

March 07, 1997

(Editor's note: Franca Lewis, a Herald-Mail reporter for almost 30 years, died suddenly this past Monday while working on a story. In addition to being a professional journalist, she was also a warm and loving friend. Many of her co-workers who didn't get to say goodbye to her in life wrote the following remembrances and tributes to her.)

This quote was on Franca's mousepad and it describes how we all should live. "Someone wrote: `Life can't give me joy and peace; it's up to me to will it. Life just gives me time and space; it's up to me to fill it.' "

Franca, you helped me grow as a reporter, you made me laugh and sometimes you made me blush. I thank you for all three of those. I will miss your humor, your insight and most of all, your humanity. See ya', Marlo

Franca, you taught me to cut to the chase and focus on what's really important. Sometimes we laughed, at times we cried, but I always knew where I stood with you, and I treasured your honesty. Thanks for giving me the courage to stand up for what I believe in. Teri Johnson


Franca, I appreciated your advice and friendship. I could always come to you and know I was going to get a straight answer. Thank you for asking me to go on a break with you Monday - I was busy and wasn't going to go - but now I'm glad for those 10 minutes I had with you! I just keep waiting for you to give me that look across the newsroom to go for a break again. Sonja Hoover

Franca, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to know you. Thanks for your friendship I'll miss your smile. Kim

Franca, I'll always remember sitting in that chair next to your desk and dumping my problems on you. At those times you were more of a counselor than a co-worker, and you never seemed to mind. Often I came to you annoyed about this or that, but I almost always walked away laughing. Thank you. Always, Guy Fletcher

Franca, I remember the help you gave me when I needed assistance in covering a murder. I asked the city editor for you, knowing you would knock on every door necessary until you found the person we needed. And if anyone could get a hesitant subject to open up, you could with your honest, caring approach.

Hours later, we arrived back by chance in the parking lot at the same time. I could see your feet were dragging from pounding the pavement. You were griping about the cold and how hungry you were and how many rude people you encountered and you started cursing out the editor for sending you.

I started laughing and I told you that I had asked for you specifically. I explained why and how I always thought of you as a bulldog and how if I could have any reporter in the world to work with me on the story, I'd still pick you.

You laughed and I swear your steps grew lighter. I can still hear the sound of your laughter as it warmed that cold January night. You wonderful, sweet, loving, beautiful woman, how are we going to go on without you? Clyde

Franca, when I was an intern, you took me under your wing. You encouraged me to be tough and yet sensitive. And I'll never forget the day you sewed on my popped button. How would I have faced that interview without you? Lisa Prejean

Franca, you're someone I would have wanted to have on my side if I had a problem. I loved to listen to you making calls to solve an Action Line problem. You'd cajole, browbeat, soft-soap, lecture and in general work your magic - whatever it took to find an answer, always keeping in mind that someone was counting on you and that you didn't plan to let them down. Liz Douglas

Franca, of all the things I'll miss about you (and there are many), I think what I'll miss the most is hearing you laugh each day from across the newsroom. I never even knew what was so funny. Just hearing you burst out laughing - undoubtedly at your own off-color comment - somehow always made me feel better. I'd give anything just to see you walk through the newsroom one more time with your coffee in your No. 1 Mom mug. We sure do miss you. Kelly Zimmerman

Franca, I didn't know you long, but I am grateful for that short time. One incident that pops to mind: I had just walked in and another reporter snapped at me for something. I forget what. You rang my phone and told me not to let anybody bully me around. I appreciated that much more than you could possibly have realized. Thank you so much. Brendan

Franca, I am going to miss so many things about you, your laugh, your smile, your jokes and your spunk. I love that you thought I was a lot like you because of my feistiness. You said it was the Italian in us. You were a good friend. I wish I had told you this while you were alive. It was an honor to have known you. Fare you well my friend, fare you well. - Cristin

Franca. We talked just about every day. What do I do now? I'll miss you, but I'll never forget you. Your friend, Richard.

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