David Franklin, who for many years owned and operated Vineyard Photo in Edgartown with his wife, Sheila, died Saturday, January 11, 2014 after battling Alzheimer’s disease for many years. He was 86.
David was born June 25, 1927 in Boston. He grew up in the Boston area and attended Northeastern University. Self-taught in many areas, his formal education was only a foundation for the many skills he acquired through his own initiatives. Photography and the arts were his lifelong passions.
David was a very skilled craftsman, creating unique fine wooden furniture and metal works for his home throughout the years. He was also a do-it-all-guy, who could fix an old MG one day and decipher a complicated electronic circuit board gone awry, the next.
David worked for many companies throughout his long career. From American Science and Engineering to his own tech business, Complex Instruments, where he designed, built, and sold step and repeat cameras in the 1960s.
He had a 20-plus year career with Polaroid, becoming a Senior Engineer in the heyday of instant photography, and a handful of patents are in his name. David also worked with Henry Kloss in the early days of Hi-Fi.
In 1988, David and Sheila, his wife of more than 63 years, moved to West Tisbury and opened Vineyard Photo in Edgartown. At the time, digital photography had not replaced film and David and Sheila quickly built up a loyal following of customers, from Islanders dropping off film of family vacations to professionals looking for quality work.
David always took an interest in his customers, whether inquiring about family members or recent trips, and he earned their loyalty with his congenial and helpful manner characterized by a quick wit. He also connected with the Vineyard community at large, from helping budding photographers to taking Santa pictures at the high school. The business closed in September 2010, but his many customers did not forget him, nor he they.
In a letter to the editor published in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, photographer Lisa Brown Langley commented on the experience. “In my mind, Vineyard Photo and I grew up together. It would not be a stretch to say many photographers thrived during and because of the Franklin family era of business. Not only a class act, but also they were the epitome of professional.”
David’s photos always did well when he entered the Ag Fair photo contests. David’s 60- by 12-inch panoramas of Menemsha Harbor and Edgartown Harbor hang in many Vineyard residents’ homes.
He led an exciting and fulfilling life, touching many with his wit and clever responses. Knowing laughter and humility were life to David. He will be greatly missed, especially by his family.
David is survived by his loving wife, Sheila; three sons, Gavin, Dana, and Ethan; daughters-in-law Penny, Stephanie, and Lyn; and two granddaughters, Emily and Lauren.
The family will have a celebration of David’s life at a later date.