Franklin Stearns Jr., 92

Franklin Stearns

SACO — Franklin Fox Stearns Jr., named “The Dean of Criminal Defense” in 1988 by the Maine Sunday Telegram, died Sunday, April 23, 2017, at 92.

Franklin was born in North Conway, N.H., on Aug. 10, 1924, to Franklin Fox Stearns Sr. and Doris Chandler Stearns. He grew up in Lovell, and graduated from Fryeburg Academy in 1942. He attended the Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, S.C., on a football scholarship.

As many of “The Greatest Generation” did, he left school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served in the 188th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division in the Philippines Islands and the occupation of Japan. He also served 11 years in the Maine National Guard and was company commander of B Company 103rd Regimental Combat Team, Milk Street Armory, Portland.

After the war, Franklin returned to Maine and attended Portland Junior College, Bowdoin College, and the University of Maine School of Law. He graduated in 1950 and was admitted to the bar in August 1950. He practiced law in Portland from 1950 to 1994, and was elected Cumberland County Attorney and served from 1963 to 1964. Franklin was honored by the Maine State Legislature as a defense lawyer.

He was an ardent supporter of the American criminal law system, and believed it to be the best in the world.

Franklin was a 32nd Degree Mason and belonged to the Kora Temple Shrine in Lewiston. He was also an athlete and sports lover. In 1946-1947, he played for the Portland Sagamores semi-professional football team as a running back and safety. He was an avid hunter and kept a hunting cabin for 48 years in Lovell.

Franklin was an animal lover and especially loved dogs. He also appreciated fine automobiles and owned several classics. Until his recent decline in health, he was very active and interested in music, movies, politics, and history. His mind remained sharp until the end and he could recall most of his cases to the point of reciting witness testimony. He was a gifted raconteur, very entertaining, and loved a joke.

Franklin was predeceased by his parents; a sister, Catherine Purslow; and his two wives, Dorothy Manougian Stearns and Doris Desilets Stearns.

He is survived by his two daughters, Stephanie Frederick of New York City, N.Y., and Riegelsville, Pa. ,and Valerie Cook of Cumberland; a son, Richard Franklin Stearns of Portland; and a stepson, Marc Paradis of Old Orchard Beach.

There will be a private family interment. Arrangements are by Cote Funeral Home, Saco.

Donations in Franklin’s memory may be sent to Greyhound Pets of America, P.O. Box 871, Madeira Beach, FL 33738.

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