"For years, Bob Franklin had been one of the most respected fine art printers in America," said Elmer Smith, chairman of the workshop's board and a former Daily News columnist. "He has worked with some of America's most celebrated artists, such as Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence."
Smith said Bob's work "made fine art accessible to people of moderate income. We couldn't have done this without Bob."
The workshop, he said, is "preserving the craft of fine-art printmaking and facilitating the work of renowned artists who can only produce prints with the collaboration of master printers like Bob."
Bob was born on Long Island, N.Y., to Bennett Robert Franklin and Eleanor Lancaster. The family moved to Philadelphia when Bob was 4. He attended Martha Washingon Elementary School and graduated from Dobbins Vocational High School. He entered the Air Force in 1952, served in the 15th Recon Technical Squadron and trained as a lithograph pressman.
Discharged in 1954, Bob went to work for the Ralph E. Harris mailing house in Philadelphia as a press operator and remained there for 30 years.
In 1984, Bob befriended John Queen, a mural painter, sculptor and printmaker who introduced him to the Brandywine Workshop, which is in a 19th-century firehouse near Fitzwater Street. The printmakers work in offset lithography.
Bob quickly mastered the medium of original fine-art publishing and spent the next three decades working with visiting artists.
His work will be displayed in September at the exhibition "Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"When people met Bob, they would immediately grasp his warm personality and his giving presence," the workshop said in an obituary. "His smile lit up a room, and he possessed a rare quality of genuineness. Bob also had a playful side. He loved to laugh, joke and never hesitated to play ‘guess my age.' "
Bob played the drums with the Ile Ife Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble.
"Between printing and performance art, Bob truly believed that art is life," the workshop said.
He is survived by his wife, Carol; two sons, Eric and Hakim; two sisters, Eleanor "Marita" Boston and Patricia Burno; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Services: Memorial service 4 p.m. Aug. 11 at Brandywine Workshop, 728 S. Broad St.
Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or email@example.com, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.