Retired Executive Secretary
Clyde Franz Turns 100

Centenarian served church in U.S., British West Indies, and Cuba (Posted March 28, 2013)

BY ANSEL OLIVER, Adventist News Network

Clyde Franz, a retired Seventh-day Adventist Church executive who oversaw membership statistics and missionary recruitment for international outposts, turned 100 on March 1, 2013.

Franz served as executive secretary of the denomination from 1970 to 1980. He celebrated his centennial with his two children, relatives, and friends visiting from several states.

“They’re making a big deal  out of this when all I’ve really done was get up 36,000 times, more or less, and I’m here,” he quipped during a phone interview from his home at a retirement facility in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He pauses and more solemnly says, “I should add that I’m thankful to the Lord for all those times.”

His daughter, 72-year-old Sue Smith, said her father has always embraced humor. “He loves to tell little jokes. His mind is really sharp. . . . Dad’s had an interesting life. He’s been a wonderful father.”

CONTENTED CENTENARIAN: Clyde Franz served as secretary of the Adventist world church from 1970 to 1980. March 1, 2013, marked his 100th birthday. [PHOTO: Courtesy of Sue Franz Smith]
Franz walks a mile or two each day and participates in his facility’s exercise club. He’s the oldest in the group. The youngest is 70.

“You would never guess he’s going to be 100,” said fellow resident Karl Bahr, who served with Franz at the Adventist Church headquarters as controller.

Franz also still drives, mostly to take his 98-year-old retired missionary doctor friend to visit his 101-year-old wife in a nearby nursing home twice a day. Franz passed a state driving exam two months ago, which gives him a license for another five years. He said he’ll likely not drive that long, though.

Franz married three times, and each time he outlived his vow of “till death do us part.” He says he enjoyed each marriage, but that he’ll remain a bachelor.

He doesn’t have any secrets to longevity, he said, other than being a vegetarian and living as a Seventh-day Adventist. He believes observing the Sabbath—taking a day off each week—has helped. “It’s healthful, but it goes further than that. When we take the Sabbath off, we’re serving God.”

As secretary in the 1970s, he ran the department charged with filling mission posts, still in an era before national leaders took most leadership roles.

“In those days, unlike today, our number one job was finding missionary recruits for divisions. Nowadays divisions pretty much find their own personnel,” he said.

Don Yost, who worked for Franz as the founder of what is now the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, said Franz was “very well organized, very congenial, efficient in doing the things that needed to be done. Just a very fine person to work with.”

Franz was born on March 1, 1913, to self-supporting missionaries in Camagüey, Cuba. In 1932 he earned an accounting degree at Southern Missionary College—now Southern Adventist University.

He went on to serve as secretary-treasurer of several Adventist conferences, including Alabama-Mississippi, Kentucky-Tennessee, Iowa, and the British West Indies Union. In the 1950s he served in the Antillean Union, based in Cuba, for two years as president.

He also served as secretary of the Inter-American Division, based in Miami, Florida, from 1954 to 1961, and then as the division’s treasurer until 1966.

It was at the 1966 General Conference session in Detroit, Michigan, that Franz’s college classmate Robert Pierson was elected president of the Adventist world church. “Hey, Bob,” he remembered joking at a chance meeting in Cobo Hall, “if you ever need a janitor there someday, remember me.” Within a week Franz was “there,” having just hours after the encounter been appointed an associate executive secretary of the denomination. Four years later he was appointed secretary.

But Franz is still a treasurer at heart. His top hobby is managing his own finances in a spare bedroom he’s converted into a study, complete with computer and copier.

In anticipation of his milestone birthday, he said, “I just can’t ignore the way the Lord has directed and led through all these years. I’ve been blessed beyond measure.”

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