A longtime Brooksville politician described by his peers as a man of few words died Thursday morning, apparently the victim of suicide, police said.
Former mayor and City Council member Franklin F. Emerson of 29 Sunset Drive was found dead in his garage about 6 a.m., Brooksville police Capt. Ray Schumacher said. It appeared Emerson had hanged himself. He was 72.
"We responded to a call at 6:12 a.m. where apparently Mr. Emerson was the victim of suicide," Schumacher said. "In talking to the officers on the scene, I don't see anything that would lead us to suspect foul play."
Schumacher said no note was left, and no motive was apparent.
A Brooksville native, Emerson served 21 years in local politics, starting in March 1966, when the City Council, then called the City Commission, appointed him to fill a vacancy left by a resignation.
Emerson won his first election the following year, and eventually served as mayor and vice mayor. Emerson remained the voters' favorite until 1986, when he lost by 42 votes to John Tucker.
"The main thing I can say about Franklin was he was a gentleman. When we ran against each other, we didn't put each other down at all," recalled Tucker, who still is on the council. "He was a very quiet man, a man of little words, but when he did say something, you listened."
County Parks and Recreation manager Pat Fagan served on the City Council with Emerson in the early 1980s. "He's a kind, loving, considerate individual who was a lot of fun to be around," Fagan said.
"He always had a smile. I enjoyed working with him."
Brooksville City Manager Jim Cummings also had fond memories.
"I knew Franklin before I came here as city manager, (and) I couldn't find anyone with higher integrity and moral character," Cummings said. "I think the thing I and everyone will remember is his low-key nature. He was quietly effective. He got things accomplished without being pervasive."
Schumacher, who also worked with Emerson, called the former hardware store entrepreneur "a down-to-earth, well-liked person, professionally and personally."
Emerson owned and operated C. M. Emerson & Son Hardware. He was a World War II Navy veteran, a former member of Kiwanis Club and active in church affairs.
Emerson is survived by his wife, Frances Joyce, one son and three daughters.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Turner Funeral Homes Brooksville Chapel.