Fort Wayne, IN – Komets co-owner Richard Franke passed away in Fort Wayne on July 4 at age 79.
In the summer of 1990, Komet owner David Welker moved the franchise to Albany, New York. Just days after the announcement, Richard and his brothers Steve, Michael, David, and Bill purchased the Flint franchise of the International Hockey League. They moved the team to Fort Wayne, keeping professional hockey in Fort Wayne. Under the Franke brothers, the Komets have played in five different leagues, winning seven championships. Richard remained a proud minority owner of the Fort Wayne Komets for 33 years with his brothers and Scott Sproat.
"He was instrumental in getting Steve, Dave, Bill, and me interested in Komet hockey as kids. We all remember him driving us to the games,” said Komet President Michael Franke. “He loved hockey, the Komets, and his beloved Montreal Canadians."
Rich was a Mad Anthony Red Coat recipient in 2017, along with his brothers and Scott Sproat.
“My brothers Rich and Bill got me involved in sports at an early age,” said Komet General Manager David Franke. Rich got me hooked on hockey and the Komets. I owe a lot to my brother. I will miss him dearly.”
“My brother Rich introduced me to Komet hockey in the late ’50s,” said Komet CEO Steve Franke. “Winning the first championship in 1993 was a big deal for the whole family, especially for Rich, a long-time Komet fan.”
Richard is survived by his wife Cherylene, son Jeffery, daughter Pamela, his four brothers, Bill, Steve, Dave, and Michael, and his sister Mary.