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John Eccleston Frankum

John Eccleston Frankum, 1960-1967


JOHN ECCLESTON FRANKUM served on the Court of Appeals 1960-1967 and the Supreme Court 1967-1970. He was born March 6, 1898, at Soque, Habersham County, Georgia, and died June 7, 1978.

He attended the public schools of Habersham County; graduated from Atlanta Law School with an LL.B. degree in 1920 and began the practice of law in Clarkesville the same year.

He married Beulah Kimsey of Towns County on April 7, 1918. They had five children, John E., Jr., Kathleen, Evelyn, Stephen D., and Joe. For details as to family, history, and achievements, see the memorial dated April 16, 1979, in 242 Georgia Reports, pages XXVII-XXXIX.

He was a Baptist; Mayor of the City of Clarkesville for six years; Judge of the City Court, Habersham County for six years; Solicitor-General of the Northeastern Circuit for over two years; Judge of the Superior Court Court of the Mountain Circuit for almost 12 years; Court of Appeals for eight years; Supreme Court about four years; on April 1, 1970, Judge Emeritus, Mountain Judicial Circuit for life.

For over 50 years at the Bench and Bar, he was noted as "one of Georgia's finest jurists. His keen intellect often dismembered the most complicated case into a concisely stated opinion adhering to the precedents established by the courts and adhering to the commands of Georgia laws. He was an individual who combined a keen intellect with a basic understanding of human nature and common sense." As he himself remarked to another young judge searching for advice and a point of law: "Son, my source is called 'Frankum on Horsesense.' " It was said: "Early in his youth he realized that the royal straight flush of glory never comes up in life, that the premiums are there only for those who persevere." He possessed traits of "honesty, decency, self-reliance and a deference for the rights of others." He joined the Emory Baptist Church, and regularly attended Sunday services there as long as he lived in Atlanta. He was "kind, thoughtful, courteous and considerate."

He enjoyed baseball, hunting, fishing, and politics. He read Toynbee, Dickens, Kipling, Hemingway, and American history, and was an expert on the Civil War. He was a "man from the mountains -and a mountain of a man.” He had a charm, humor, “a cheery twinkle in his eyes” and “was gentle in nature." Lawyers will always find his opinions "a rich harvest of information."