My Tribute to Dennis Franks – A Celebration of Life – Nov 7th 2021

Numerous UFO’s and Leaders have asked me to send my tribute to Dennis at the Celebration of Saint Dennis’ Life. Here it is. Thanks for caring and your support.

The unexpected passing of the incomparable Dennis Franks, “Mr. Energy”, our 5-star general (just a few names I had given him over the years that he loved) and my best friend and partner of nearly 30 years has left us in shock, shattered and broken. 

Nancy was so kind to allow me 15 to 20 minutes to cover 30 Years of Dennis. Not an easy task, so I wrote it out to guarantee staying on time.

I have given 10,000 speeches to over a million people, and this is by far the most difficult one I have ever done, yet my greatest honor.

I do not think I can get through it without breaking down. Sorry Dennis, I am not that strong.

Dennis always gave much more than he took. He was my blues brother and my other half and my confidence. Together we could do no wrong. (Or he couldn’t – LOL). He made us exponentially better. 

There were 3 facets or dimensions of Dennis’s being or persona. His 3 loves or passions:

  • His Family: (Nancy, Lauren, and Katie) also his siblings and parents
  • His Football Family: Michigan and Eagles
  • His Market America family

Of course, he was a rock star and always loved his music and playing the guitar.

I WOULD LIKE TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT NUMBER ONE:

DENNIS LOVED HIS FAMILY.

Lauren & Katie – he loved you both so much – he was the greatest dad. He worried about you when you were small and even so when you grew up and got married and started your own families. He always wanted to make sure you were safe and protected. 

When Lauren moved away to Australia- HE SAID NANCY HATED IT BUT SECRETLY TOLD ME HE DID ALSO. HE MISSED YOU SO MUCH THAT HE MADE IT A POINT TO BE IN AUSTRALIA MORE TO SEE YOU. THAT’S THE TYPE OF DAD HE WAS. AND KATIE- HE ALWAYS HAD THIS SWEET JOKE ABOUT “MY KATIE”. MY KATIE – WELL SHE AINT NEVER GONNA GROW UP AND LEAVE ME- EVEN WHEN SHE IS MARRIED – AND YOU NEVER DID – HE LOVED IT

You were his shinning stars. He was the greatest Dad, and you made his life so happy and gave him nothing but joy……he was so proud of you.

He was so excited about the future and loved being Diesel. ‘DIESEL AND MIA’ – HE WOULD SAY TO US– “THAT’S MY NEW LIFE JR” AND I LOVE IT.

LAUREN AND KATIE – you gave Dennis his most treasured gifts and his legacy – his grandchildren!

Izzy, Cruz, and William…. your DIESEL loved you so much! We all saw photos of you with him as you grew, and he was so proud to show you all off. I know you will carry his memories with you forever!

Nancy – this is so hard because I love you so much and I know how much you both love each other.

You were the love of his life. A perfect pair, the dynamic duo – the example for us all to live by – 40 years of love – and still not enough time – he was so excited to live this life with you and he loved it. His bride, his hope, and his happiness… he loved you more than he loved himself. And that is a lot!

I HAD A DREAM LAST NIGHT – Well, it was a more than a dream -like he broke your glasses while you were asleep, he woke me up and illuminated the room. Dennis asked me to read this poem to you…It’s only two lines:

“IN ALL THE WORLD THERE IS NO HEART FOR ME LIKE YOURS.

IN ALL THE WORLD THERE IS NO LOVE FOR YOU LIKE MINE”

HE WILL BE WITH YOU FOREVER. 

NUMBER 2: FOOTBALL – I will leave for Vince & Coach Dick Vermeil.

But I will speak about NUMBER 3: His Market America Family

There are certain contributions that Dennis made that shaped the future and defined what Market America became. Those contributions and the memories or stories that shaped the future are too many to share here today, but I will address them in articles in the company magazine. 

It is another movie THESE ARE THE IMAGES OF THE PLAN THAT DENNIS DREW FOR ME AFTER I SHOWED IT TO HIM AND A PICTURE OF HIM EXPLAININT IT. It was on a legal pads size paper, and I was trying to recreate it and have 2 copies to hold up and show and maybe even pass around. The picture of him is optional. There are several images of the plan on paper because I did not know which one would show or print the best. I have them on a USB stick as well in the like “INVINCIBLE.”

He believed 100% in our mission and the UnFranchise model from the beginning when there was nothing but a concept or idea. He gave up everything to join me in making Market America a success. He immediately moved to Greensboro to help start. He was my ‘other half’ and confidence.

He was the ultimate UnFranchise owner and executive and led by example. What I mean by that is that he actually was an UnFranchise owner first and foremost and it took priority over being an executive. 

He did the business as a UFO from the bottom up, even though he didn’t have to as a corporate management team member and executive. He played by all the rules and requirements in the company to earn commissions and retail products. He did it to lead by example and so he knew first-hand what it took and how to do it. He took excuses away because he was asking them to do what he did. He practiced what he preached and lead by example and therefore was highly credible, in fact, incredible. He was the ultimate “player – coach”!

His boundless love and belief in people resulted in positively influencing tens of thousands of people and creating thousands of success stories. It has been the greatest honor of my life to have this great man join and follow me for 30 years. He is irreplaceable! 

Keep in mind that his Market America story has never been told and is largely unknown because he is not one to “toot his own horn” because he tooted the horns of others and his teams throughout life.

The 1st 10 years we were family with Nancy the girls and Amber and they were the best years of our lives. We both lived in South Jersey in the beginning, and he moved to NC for me. He coached football at Page high school as well and became an influencer in the community while he built MA with me to a level that became acclaimed in the industry and worldwide. 

As I said he is/was my confidence and the “other Guy” or partner that was as crazy as me and keep me in check if I was out of line or went too far. 

DENNIS IS AND WAS MY BEST FRIEND – although you would never know it.

You wouldn’t know it because it was unspoken. Actions speak louder than words. We didn’t have to say it because we lived it and had an unequalled level of respect for each other, and we both were players on the field doing it and making it happen. However, I do regret not showing it more in an ‘off the field manner’ by spending more time together.

From the first days he had an instant understanding and the same unwavering belief. He was a leader and a lover and has been at the mountain top in other things and to choose me to follow and partner with for 30 years, without reservation and to accomplish what we did together in the beginning (when no one really believed) and also to sacrifice it all in order to do it; is the greatest honor! It must have been fate, destiny and meant to be.

I have to tell you about our 1st meeting and instant connection as it is remarkable:

We met as a result of the “Evaluation approach” where I don’t try to get someone in but ask them to look at it to see if they might know the right people in which case they could benefit. It results in a sequence or referral thread. Larry Macy, A college fraternity brother, knew Dave Shultz (Flyers star- ‘enforcer”), who knew Larry Durst (Pharmacist), who knew Bill Bergey (Eagles LB), who knew Vince Papale, who knew Dennis Franks. I may have gotten a couple out of order. Also, Ron Jaworski may have been in there somewhere or later. Larry Macy & Ocean city Realtor: Meeting at office: (Dennis had a summer home on Ocean City).

Dennis’s reaction and his understanding was rare and noteworthy.

What he said: “Wow! You sure are excited! That is amazing and a lot. I don’t understand it all but get the gist of it. Your passion and enthusiasm are compelling. I want to learn more and think I want to join you.”

He wanted literature and a copy of the plan which we did not have yet so I ripped the “modern artwork like” diagram and colored scribbling off the legal pad and gave it to him. There it is!

We booked a follow up at his home in Sewell, Washington Township. I had a condo there as well.

When I got there, he had made a redrawn version of the plan or presentation (neatly organized in steps (picture) HOLD UP PICTURE.

Dennis had succeeded in Cambridge and another weight loss program that used TV shows to generate leads.

Also, he liked the UnFranchise concept as he owned a Mail Box etc. franchise.

He was the 1st person with experience and knowledge that understood the power and uniqueness of the plan.

We took trips to Pittsburg where he was from: I remember we had “Mobile phones” foot long to keep in touch with home & people we were meeting. We were ahead of the time!

On the way Dennis ask to see the product literature to get ready. “Where is it?” JR: “We don’t have any yet.” DF: “We need it!” JR: “That is what you are for!” DF:” OK – I will do it!” That was the real beginning.

Then Dennis lead to Kevin Buckman (A Brother from another mother –“Frick and Frack”). That is entirely another chapter and story unto itself that made history!

We had his 1st Kick off meeting- at the Hyatt or Marriot Cherry Hill and 500 people showed up. That was a record and never happened before and never happened since.

It sounds good; but actually was a problem – as there was no way to follow up with people.

That resulted in the 1st Basic 5 at Ron Jaworski’s golf country club with Dennis & Buckman. It became the Holy Grail of the business (fundamentals like blocking and tackling).

I asked him to move to NC. He did without reservation.

Dennis, Marty, Jerry, Kevin, Marc, JR were the original “Brat/Rat Pack” and were all very different and did not always agree were invincible together. We were glued together by RESPECT + BELIEF. It was an epoxy-cement!

The company became Retail Driven because of Dennis. He gets 100% credit for that!

Shortly after that we had a Cruise with leaders to do an informercial or video to attract prospects. There was an incident that became the magic moment – we had come out with a product ‘Thermochromic 5000’ an energy & weight loss product that was doubling in volume monthly. I had brought on 2 old cronies from my past, Royce McCoy & Tino Catchioli who attempted to pull a Mutiny: They were trying to copy Product and steal our people-subversively talking to them on board.

When Dennis got wind of it : He got in their faces against the wall d said “don’t you steal my dream!” 

He called them out. He and Nancy sat Loren and I down and said: “Listen, we believe in what you are doing and are committed. We will commit fulltime and come on board and help you build it. You don’t need those guys. We have your back and will do it with you. We believe in you and the plan”

They came on board full time. Nancy ran events for 5 years and did anything it took to help us. (Secretly Loren and I hope she will come back now)

We Have so many best Memories of Tyson Corner and the Patriot center and the early days in GSO, NJ, Miami and on Utopia I and II.

There is O=one incident that stands out from the Patriot Center event or the “BOX” where I left him in a box for 1 ½ hrs. on stage. (it was in the tribute video).

I use to do a demonstration or how life puts you in a box that limits and defines life (job time-rut, income, friends perceptions, limitations, etc.) Introducing or getting in the busines was like getting out of the box or taking the lid off and taking the limits off life. My presentations were notoriously long and complicated. I accidently forgot to do the BOX” that was in the 1st 10 minutes of the presentation. Dennis was in the box with a red, white, blue flag jacket sweating and he has closteroviral. I remembered after 1 ½ hrs. into the presentation and backtracked to open the box and he jumped out like a kack in the box and superman. Such a great sport – he never complained and made a point. When the opportunity comes -JUMP!

The years flew by like a blink.

But from the beginning it was an instant understanding and love and belief in the same thing and no words were needed, but a glance and the audible at the line of scrimmage called the right play every time.

He believed as much as I did ON his own. He made up his own mind and that was it. It was as much his as mine.

He could not even leave or retire even with others’ strong influence and powerful opportunities; because he loved the people and they loved him too much. 

He was the greatest player in the MA game.

He used to say: “I used to get paid for moving bodies and now I get paid to move minds.”

And he did it through the heart!

He will never really die because of his influence on me and 1000’s of others.

There is too much unknown, forgotten and never told about this Saint. I say Saint because he was pure and came from a higher plane or level of love and compassion.

He loved every individual – individually.

Listen – No-one gets out of life alive.

Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.

If I dare to bring up the Dash – this man lived it! 

The graveyard is filled with tombstones of past lives. But between all the birth dates and death dates on every tombstone is a dash. The dash represents their life and story and what they did with their life and time here. The proverbial question is what did they do with the DASH?

Well, I can say that Dennis Franks was the epitome of living the dash.!!! 

He lived life to the fullest and always gave more than he took. He loved family, friends, and people. He found the good in everyone. He enriched the lives of others and bubbled over with excitement, achievement, success, and adventure. There was never a dull moment with Dennis Franks.

Dennis loved his new Lake home in NC and wanted us to come and spend time. I was going to go but regret allowing things to get in the way –

Don’t let things get in the way!

Dennis would say: do those things now…. YES, You are still leaving us lessons, Dennis.

I really do not understand what happened, as I was sure he would outlive us all and be the last to go. I thought he would be speaking at my funeral and carrying on the legacy of UFO’s. He was so robust, strong and energetic.

I suppose a lifetime to us is but a second on God’s watch.

But still, I am not sure how to find true North without him. He was my compass.

Time and success and the demands on both of our time, separated us geographically but never separated us mentally or in the heart.

Dennis was the party. He was every dance on the stage. He will be every smile in our hearts and on our faces from here on out.

I didn’t have any regrets in life until NOW and this sudden event is a wake-up call causing us to re-evaluate everything we are doing up to now.

I have realized that all my priorities are out of order and upside down and what seemed so important was unimportant.

Dennis Franks was important. I regret not spending more time or reminding him more how much I loved him.

I am sure he left a huge to do list and an inbox on his desk when he suddenly got called and none of it really matters now- does it…?

But what he said to us and what he gave every day was so subtle, huge, and comforting that we took it for granted and now and forever we will experience a huge void and emptiness without his physical presence.

He was so low maintenance for me, and he was taken for granted. He was totally self-powered.

But he maintained me with love and belief and understanding.

He was, his life and example was like bed rock- solid.

Always fun. Always uplifting and beacon light for all to follow

With a big smile he looked deep into your eyes with sincerity.

There will never be another Dennis Franks. He truly was above all else a rock star. 

OMG – I can’t accept this. 

Dennis I love you and just wanted to tell you one more time…….but you left before I could. 

One of his last zoom calls the day before he left us was to a group of leaders and the sales team. He called for everyone to do more – ‘stop waiting for the dam to be broken, it’s time to step up’, he said. Some of you were on it and heard that message including Kevin and Andrew and Jim. – this was out of character – He broke down emotionally and in tears which I never saw in this manner before from Mr. Energy in 30 years. He was trying to tell us all something. He said that he did not feel himself and he asked for leaders to step up and do more. It said a lot more than words could express. But he was still sharing the message of how important it is not to wait for all to be over in order to do something today. 

After the movie “Invisible” about Dennis and Vince Papale as Eagles; Bonnie Church helped them write a book called the ‘Last Laugh’ that we want to resurrect.

But the book centered on Dennis’s and Vince’s philosophy of life and success called the “VICTORS CODE.” It plays hand in hand and is at the center of Dennis Frank’s being and what he wanted to pass on to immortally. He was the (e-pi-to-me) of the ‘Victors Code’ and lived it .

THE 7 V’S

  • Vision – the state of being able to see
  • Valor – possessing exceptional courage and determination
  • Vehemence – showing great energy or passion
  • Veracity – the habit of speaking the truth
  • Vitality – the life force of ability to live
  • Vigor – the ability to thrive and strive
  • Victory – the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  • Victory- Dennis you are victorious!

I was blessed and lucky to have crossed paths with this great man and to have collided in our missions and ambitions in life at the right time and place. It was a magic moment that changed everything.

Without a doubt he was the most influential person in my Market America life, and the last 30 years at a time when there was nothing to believe in. He and his belief were everything.

Dennis, your work, although known by the tens of thousands, is still invisible, as it is impossible to know all the hearts you touched….it was endless.

But we will forever be grateful that you touched ours.

Grief never ends – but it changes.

It is passage not a place to stay.

Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… it is the price of love.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal –

But love leaves a memory no one can steal.

It’s like something magical comes from these places of life and death.

We don’t understand it on this side, but one day it will all make sense

May you rest in peace knowing that we will be here for Nancy, Lauren, Katie and your entire family. 

Thank you for all the lessons. Until we meet again my friend …

WE WILL STAY FOCUSED & STAY THE COURSE.

I love you forever, Dennis.