Cover photo for Franklin E. Pursley's Obituary
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Franklin E. Pursley

December 30, 1945 — March 11, 2024

Abbeville, SC

Franklin E. Pursley

Franklin E. Pursley passed away peacefully on March 11, 2024, at Memorial Hospital, Jacksonville, FL with his family gathered around him. He was born December 30, 1945, just moments ahead of his twin sister, Frances Pursley Hall Lewis.   Additional siblings include the late John Pursley (Sylvia) and twins, Harry Pursley (Alice) and Larry Pursley (Donna).  Franklin was the son of the late James David and Sarah Amy Hedden Pursley.  He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ann Leslie Pursley, two daughters, Carol Lynn Goss and Leigh Ann Zikus (Igor) and two adored grandchildren, Grayson and Caroline Goss.

 

Franklin always said his best childhood life began at the age of 10 when he moved from the country into downtown Abbeville. That’s where he learned to pitch a baseball and center a football.  He continued his sports career through Abbeville High School and into Lenoir-Rhyne College where he earned a degree in Economics.  

 

His working life began with pumping gas, washing cars and mowing lawns.  Since he was pulling the lawn mower behind his bike and had taken over a long paper route his interest in Vespa Motor Scooters spiked.  Franklin bought his first Vespa at the age of 13 and was instantly hooked.  As a Vespa enthusiast, he collected 15 additional Vespas throughout his lifetime.   

 

Franklin began his railroad career as a Trainman on the Seaboard Air Lines RR at the age of 17, working summers and later for a full year. By then, he had saved enough to pay for his college education.  After graduation from Lenoir-Rhyne and a year of teaching and coaching, Franklin restarted his railroad career.  In 1969, he joined the Louisville & Nashville RR (predecessor to CSX) as a Management Trainee. Then followed promotions with obligatory moves (14 in all).   In 1997, Franklin proudly received the National Safety Award in Washington, DC from the Federal Railroad Administration.  

 

At work, colleagues knew Franklin as a leader, friend and frequent mentor.  Despite his charming, good nature, he had an uncanny tenacity for getting things done.  Franklin survived six corporate RR mergers.  The final merger resulted in the creation of CSX from which he retired in 2004 as Senior VP of the Operating Department.  In retirement, Franklin continued to share his time between Jacksonville, FL and his hometown, Abbeville, SC.

 

Beyond his professional life, Franklin found joy in woodworking.  He quickly became a master woodcrafter and created dozens of pieces of fine furniture for family and friends.  His final creation was a four-piece walnut display cabinet for the Franklin E. Pursley RR Museum and Park in Abbeville.  Franklin was instrumental in relocating a tired old Seaboard Air Lines caboose to the park and with the help of the “Dirty Dozen” CSX retirees, he worked diligently to restore it to its beautiful red color and pristine condition.   

 

Franklin was always the same authentic, Franklin, larger than life, with a folksy, contagious sense of humor.  He was a people magnet, always pulling them in and finding the best in them.   Franklin was a self-assured yet humble man.  People were comfortable around him because he was comfortable with himself.  His goal was to know and help everyone.  Even when traveling the world, his itinerary included interacting with the local people or hopefully spotting a Vespa!  Franklin was smart, hardworking, resilient, generous, thoughtful, caring, charming and kind (with an occasional grouch!).  There was an exceptional quality of genuine goodness about this man.  He loved God, his family, his friends and his country.  This irreplaceable man left a legacy of love.  His life was an inspiration and his memory a blessing to us all.

 

A service to celebrate Franklin’s life will be held Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 11:00 am in Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 2001 University Blvd., Jacksonville, FL with Rev. Joy Laughridge officiating.  A reception will follow the service.

 

A private graveside service will be held in Long Cane Cemetery.  A service to celebrate Franklin’s life will be 11:00AM, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Abbeville Presbyterian Church, 301 North Main Street, Abbeville, SC 29620 with Rev. Stan Colbert and Rev. Chuck Evans officiating.  A reception to visit with family and share memories will immediately follow the service.

 

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests memorial contributions, in memory of Franklin, may be made to Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 2001 University Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32217, or Abbeville Presbyterian Church, 301 N. Main St., Abbeville, SC 29620, or Warrenton Presbyterian Church, 133 Watts Rd, Abbeville, SC 29620.

 

A message of condolence may be sent to the family by visiting www.harrisfuneral.com.

 

Harris Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Abbeville is assisting the Pursley family.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Abbeville Presbyterian Church

301 N Main St, Abbeville, SC 29620

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Reception

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Abbeville Presbyterian Church

301 N Main St, Abbeville, SC 29620

The reception will follow the service.

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Private Graveside Service

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