By Matthew Jones
The Virginian-PilotFrom the Archive: November 9, 2003
She called home every day.
Sometimes from her home in Arlington, usually from her car on the commute into D.C.
She'd chat with her father about his day. She'd encourage her mother, who was battling a recurring cancer.
But one Monday evening last October, Charles Moore realized he hadn't heard from his daughter all day. As his wife slept, he went to the living room and picked up the phone.
Washington was a white-knuckle town at the time. A gunman was on the loose, shooting at random. People were afraid to get gas or to park at the mall.
Linda Franklin was not among them.
Her father caught her ready to go shopping to outfit her new townhouse.
He asked her not to go. Franklin wouldn't hear of it.
"Dad," she explained, "everybody's got to move."
Small-framed, clear-skinned and bright-eyed, never looking her age, Franklin rolled through 47 years with cheerful resolve, remaking her life over and over.
She was at times a single mother juggling college, an international teacher turned FBI analyst, navigating countries and careers as she dodged violence and disaster, confronted heartache and illness.
Nothing could stop her.
When Linda Gail Franklin was 3 or 4 years old, she walked out the front door of her house in Columbus, Ind., headed down to a busy intersection, stood in the middle of the road and began directing traffic.
As she waved her arms, cars slowed to avoid her, their amused drivers honking and waving.
After that, her parents put padlocks on the gates in the yard, but it didn't help. She escaped whenever she could.
The second of three children born to Charles and MaryAnn Moore, Franklin rushed into the world on a cold March night in 1955, before her father could finish the paperwork in the hospital lobby.
Charles Moore's career in broadcasting and engineering moved the family often, and Franklin spent her early childhood in various Indiana and Ohio cities.
Antsy and rambunctious, she often pushed her parents to their limits.
"There was no fussing or fighting," her father said. "She'd just look at you with that squinty look."
Franklin read voraciously, whenever she could sit still long enough to turn the pages. The rest of the time she was outdoors, chasing bugs, getting stung and running home with an upheld finger, hand, elbow.
Her parents kept her hair short and let her play hard.
The family traveled often while the children were young, touring Midwest lakes and campgrounds in their Ford station wagon, a canoe strapped on top. It was at Sweetwater Lake, just west of Columbus, where a preteen Franklin learned to water ski.
She was tenacious, said her father, refusing to let go of the rope when she fell. Time and again she'd hit the water, skis spinning off behind her as her body cut through the boat's wake.
"I had to stop the boat," Moore said. "I was afraid I'd drown her."
Franklin persisted until she could stay upright. After that, he couldn't wear her out on skis.
The Moores eventually settled in Florida, in time for Franklin to enter 10th grade at Buchholz High School in Gainesville.
There, Franklin and classmate Katherine Kafoglis Lockwood bonded over a love of theater. The girls dived into the school's productions, playing supporting roles, designing sets, doing makeup, sewing costumes, handling publicity, fund-raising with bake sales and car washes.
Lockwood remembers being impressed with Franklin's boldness, both on and off the stage. She would stride through the school halls, approaching the shy kids and the strangers, inviting them to the drama group's parties.
"And they would come," Lockwood said, "because she was so straightforward."
Franklin was like a mother to all her friends, said Lockwood, now a biochemist at the University of New Hampshire.
"Love and friendship just fell out of her. It wasn't an effort, it just came."
That compassion led Franklin to nursing school after graduating from Buchholz in 1973, but soon put her at odds with teachers at Gainesville's Santa Fe Community College.
They criticized her for getting too attached to her patients, for failing to maintain the proper clinical distance.
So she quit school on principle with her father's blessing.
"Right then," he recalled, "I felt like I had a daughter that had grown up."
Franklin left Gainesville with a high-school sweetheart but returned in the early '80s, after her marriage dissolved. She arrived with two small children and a plan.
"I'm going back to school."
Her parents offered money, but Franklin refused. She'd found a full-time job and would pay for college herself. And so it went for the next few years.
"I kind of resented it," Moore recalled, laughing. "Parents like to be needed."
Whenever they tried to help, Franklin would either refuse or record the debt in a detailed ledger. She paid back every penny.
It took a car accident to soften her will. With her jaw wired shut, she quickly grew tired of thinned-down baby food. So her father bought a blender, chopped up meat, soaked it in broth and fed it to her through a straw.
"I got the biggest hug out of that," he said.
At the University of Florida, Franklin rekindled the love for math she shared with her father. As a child she'd often accompanied him to work, where she'd dug through desk drawers, watching him work his slide rule, asking endless questions.
She considered computer science, Moore said, "but the jargon didn't settle." She chose teaching instead.
She transferred to the education school, made the dean's list and graduated in 1986, with a degree to teach math and science.
Her mother had passed up Smith College to get married, and her father had left Purdue University to be with his children. So seeing their 31-year-old daughter in her cap and gown was something of a dream deferred.
"I've never had a prouder moment in my life," Moore said.
Within the year, Franklin was sitting behind the wheel of a Jeep, idling in the streets of Guatemala City, where she'd gone to teach at the American School. A man approached and demanded the Jeep, the machete in his hand an unmistakable exclamation point. With her sat her young son and daughter.
Franklin's parents had paled when she told them she was going to Central America, right into the remnants of a revolution. Times were still tense, with rampant corruption, political violence, sporadic kidnappings and rumors of coups.
"I bit my tongue," Moore recalled. "I didn't want any part of her going there, but I never told her what to do."
South she flew, children in tow. They often traveled with a Marine escort since they lived outside of base housing. But that particular day they were alone, and the man with the machete was insistent.
Franklin refused to give up the Jeep, but offered to take him anywhere he wanted to go. He persisted. So did she.
Finally, he put down the machete, climbed in and accepted the ride.
"You idiot!" her father roared when she recounted the incident months later. "He could've killed you and the kids!"
"Nah," she replied, "not likely."
Despite her bravado, Franklin left just after the school year ended. Later, she would tell colleagues tales of having to sneak out of the country through the jungle, leaving her possessions behind.
The following fall found Franklin in Germany, pitching an idea to her new friend Lunella Harrill.
The ski club at Stuttgart-Ludwigsburg American High School needed a sponsor, she informed her. What say we step in?
The fact that neither of them had ever snow skied, she said, was entirely irrelevant.
"She was game to try anything," Harrill recalled.
Franklin persuaded Harrill, her husband, Jerry, and another teacher to spend weekends slipping and sliding on nearby mountains until they were passable skiers. The club resumed its trips to slopes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with membership rapidly swelling to near 50.
In warmer months, Franklin piloted another challenge, organizing a whitewater rafting trip to Garmisch, near the Austrian border. Straight off the mountains, it was the coldest water Harrill had ever felt.
The rafters had to steel themselves first by jumping in. The students stood petrified on the rocks.
As she had in Germany, Franklin spent much of her time outdoors while on the North Pacific island. Usin Pisingan, a former neighbor and colleague, recalled her coming to his house once during a typhoon and dragging him down to the ocean to watch the waves bash the shore.
Franklin stayed on Okinawa until 1994, including another teaching post at neighboring Kubasaki High School. While in Japan, she and her husband split up.
No one was hurt, but everything the Franklins owned was either ruined by the firefighters' hoses or permeated with indelible soot.
"Her pride just died," her father said. "It just tore her up to take charity."
They spent most of the next two years putting the program together, with Baker as the technical adviser and Franklin working the crowds. They wore out the phones, flew all over the country, coordinated countless training sessions, surrendered evenings, weekends and holidays.
That bond proved vital a year later, when Baker was diagnosed with breast cancer. Franklin leaped in to help.
"She wouldn't let it stop her," said Peggy Hulseberg, whose husband, Paul, worked near Franklin at the FBI. "Not everybody would be that strong," Baker agreed.
In Washington, the federal government was going through post-Sept. 11, 2001, growing pains, and the future of Franklin's division was in question. She might have to relocate, might have to start over again.
In hosting Linda Franklin's son and niece and their dogs, along with their own pets, plus her parents' periodic visits and with her first grandchild on the way in Norfolk, the two-bedroom, one-bath townhouse was too small anyway.
It might have been the gunman, they told him. They didn't think it had anything to do with her work. Still lots of unanswered questions.