Frederick William Franz

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Frederick William Franz
Frederick William Franz
Born 12 September 1893
Covington, Kentucky, U.S.
Died 22 December 1992 (aged 99)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Frederick William Franz (September 12, 1893 – December 22, 1992) served as President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. He had previously served as Vice President of the same corporation from 1945 until 1977 and as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses before replacing Nathan H. Knorr as president in June 1977.[1]


Franz was born on September 12, 1893 in Covington, Kentucky. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church, but attended Catholic services as a child as a matter of convenience, before later attending the Presbyterian Church.[2] He graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1911 and attended the University of Cincinnati where he studied liberal arts and later (for two years) Biblical Greek,[1][3] with the intention of becoming a Presbyterian preacher.[2] He learned German and could read Latin and Greek and in later years learned Spanish, Portuguese and French and a basic understanding of Hebrew.[3] His association with the Bible Students began after he read some of the literature of Charles Taze Russell. He was baptized as a Bible Student on either November 30, 1913,[4] or, according to Franz, April 5, 1914.[5]

In 1920 he joined the Watch Tower headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York[2] and in 1926 became a member of the editorial staff as a Bible researcher and writer for the Society’s publications. Upon the death of Watch Tower president Joseph Rutherford, Franz became head of the editorial department, and in 1945 he replaced Hayden C. Covington as vice-president of the Watch Tower Society.[6] Franz was the Society's leading theologian[7] and has been named as a leading figure in the preparation of the Witnesses' New World Translation of the Bible.[8][9] His nephew and fellow Governing Body member Raymond Franz resigned from the Governing Body and was subsequently disfellowshipped in 1982 during F.W. Franz's presidency.[10]

Franz continued to contribute to Watch Tower Society literature until his death in 1992 at the age of 99.[11] He was succeeded as president of the Watch Tower Society by Milton G. Henschel.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1993, page 111.
  2. ^ a b c "Looking Back Over 93 Years of Living", The Watchtower, May 1, 1987, page 22-30.
  3. ^ a b Penton, M. James (1997). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. p. 174. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3. 
  4. ^ "Rewarded With the Crown of Life", The Watchtower, March 15, 1993, page 31, 32.
  5. ^ "Looking Back Over 93 Years of Living", The Watchtower", May 1, 1987, page 25
  6. ^ Walsh vs Honorable James Latham, Court of Session Scotland, 1954, examination of Frederick Franz pp. 5-6
  7. ^ Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Constable & Co, London. p. 66. ISBN 009-455940-6. 
  8. ^ Michael Marlowe editor, The New World Translation, published online by Bible Research
  9. ^ Wills, Tony (2006), A People For His Name, Lulu Enterprises, p. 253, ISBN 978-1-4303-0100-4 
  10. ^ Witness Under Prosecution, Time Magazine, February 22, 1982
  11. ^ Obituary, The New York Times, December 24, 1992.
Preceded by
Nathan H. Knorr
President of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
June 22, 1977 – December 22, 1992
Succeeded by
Milton G. Henschel