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Franklin John Appl

December 23, 1937 — October 15, 2023

Norman, Oklahoma

Franklin John Appl


Dr. Franklin John Appl, 85, of Norman, OK, passed away Sunday, October 15th.

Franklin was born December 23, 1937 at St. Rose Hospital in Great Bend, KS, the second child of Frederick Karl and Vida Jane (Gates) Appl.

He grew up in Great Bend, KS, where his parents owned a motel and farmed. He was baptized in 1947 at the First Christian Church. Soon after, he made his first wheat harvest and continued assisting with the family farming until 1977. A member of the Great Bend High School Class of 1955, he was an avid athlete, musician, and scholar; he lettered in Football and Band, played sousaphone and trombone in the concert and pep bands, and was a member of the National Music Honor Society and the National Honor Society.

He began Southern Methodist University in 1955 as a freshman in Mechanical Engineering, and in 1956 continued his undergraduate education at Kansas State University. He graduated Cum Laude with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1960. Franklin attended graduate school at the University of Illinois where he was a teaching intern, graduate teaching assistant, and instructor. He received his MS in Mechanical Engineering in 1962, and he completed a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, with minors in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics, in 1964. Franklin joined the faculty of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (AMNE) at the University of Oklahoma as an assistant professor in 1964. He worked concurrently for Caterpillar Tractor Company in 1966-67, and became a licensed Professional Engineer in Oklahoma in 1968, where he continued as a tenured Professor at OU until 1977.

Amidst his education, Franklin met Velma C. Finkenbinder of Syracuse, KS, at the Disciples Student Foundation at K State. She became the love of his life and they were married on June 13, 1959. They welcomed two children while living in Urbana, IL, Patricia Janette in 1962, and Virginia Annette in 1963. Their family was complete with the birth of Kathryn Louise in Norman, OK in 1965.

In December 1977, Franklin formed Appl Engineering Company, a Mechanical Engineering consulting firm. He served as president and lead Engineer, providing expert counsel for a wide variety of companies, such as Kawasaki, John Deere, and Subaru, until his retirement in 2010. Over the course of his career, he was a member of numerous professional engineering societies, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), of which he was a lifetime and 50 year member, serving as President in 1982 and for 25 years on the Board of Directors of the Central Oklahoma Section.

Franklin was devoted to a life of service. He became a member of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR) in 1988. He was President of the Norman SAR Chapter in 1992 and Secretary/Treasurer from 1994 until 2023. He was president of the Oklahoma SAR from 1997-99. He became active in the NSSAR where he served as Chairman of the Board of the George Washington Endowment Fund from 2005-17. In 2011, he received the highest award presented to members of SAR, the Minuteman Award, for distinguished service rendered to the SAR on the national level. His first proven Patriot Ancestor, Lt. Daniel Gates, was a part of the Dummerston, VT militia during the American Revolution, 1775-1783. He proved 13 additional Patriot Ancestors. He greatly enjoyed researching his own family history, and helping others with their family genealogy. He spent many days reading and researching in the SAR library in Louisville, KY, especially on VT, MA, VA, NC, KY, IN, and KS. He was also an active member of the Cleveland County Genealogical Society, serving in various positions on their Board of Directors.

He was an advocate for those with intellectual disabilities from 1969 until his death. He served as Treasurer of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center Parent Guardian Association and its predecessor, the Pauls Valley State School PGA from 1992 until 2022. He believed strongly in the value of SORC’s role in the care and safety of people with intellectual disabilities in Oklahoma and was sorely aggrieved when it closed.

Franklin was an early and voracious reader with a particular interest in military history, reading deeply into the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI and II, and prominent military leaders. Franklin cherished the memory of one summer, while teaching at the Dahlgren Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, VA, spending much time with maps and battle plans in hand walking many Civil War battlefields in the area with his young daughters.

Franklin was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, and cherished his family. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Dr. Fredric C. Appl and his wife Natalie, and his daughter Kathryn. He is survived by his wife Velma, his daughters Patricia Appl, Virginia Appl and her husband Keith Meurer, his granddaughters, Lya Trammell and Kacey Meurer, and his great granddaughter Anabel Apple Trammell, as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Burial will follow in the Fairview Park Cemetery, St. John, Kansas.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Franklin John Appl, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Minnis Chapel, Inc.- St. John

526 E. 4th Ave., Box 34, St. John, KS 67576

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