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Franklin Gans: Unveils his heart on various topics

By Martha Bush

The Orange Leader

 In the early 1960’s with his high school graduation drawing near Franklin Gans, the middle child of a family of nine children, had a conversation with his father about his desires to go to college.

“Daddy, I want to go to college,” the young Gans said.

“You need to go into the military first,” his daddy replied.

“No, I want to go to college now,” Gans insisted.

“Then you will just have to call Dr. Mattice Harris to see if he can help you in some way,” Gans’ father said.

Gans immediately made that phone call, and with the help of Dr. Harris, Gans received a full scholarship to college and left his small town of Orange, Texas for Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. It was there that he saw first-hand the things his father had talked to him about as he was growing up in regard to racial injustice.

“Daddy’s intention was to help me be aware of what was going on in the world, not to make me bitter, but better,” Gans said.

While in college, Gans had many opportunities available to him, one of which was auditioning and being accepted to sing in the college choir, becoming the first freshman boy to ever travel with the choir, and even became its spokesman.

“I was a diamond in the rough,” Gans said with a laugh.

Upon completion of his first four years of college, Gans was offered a full scholarship to medical school.

“I turned it down because I was a poor boy from Orange who needed to go to work; it was time to make some money,” Gans said.

Gans followed up his statement of not accepting the scholarship to medical school by exclaiming with much joy, “Let me tell you something about how God works. My first-born granddaughter went to the same college where I had turned down the scholarship and is now a doctor. Oh, when I think about that, I am reminded that God is always in control.”

And so it was, Gans returned to Orange, and his work ethics paved the way for him to retire as a school teacher and businessman. Over the years, Gans also became active in various civic organizations throughout Orange, served on the school board, and has played a big role in the Orange chapter of the NAACP. Along the way, he also earned additional college degrees.

Gans was quick to point out, “I am not my occupation or title.”

So, who is Franklin Gans, the man? At 72 years of age, married for 47 years, father of four, grandfather of 12, and clearly a visionary for his community, Gans unveiled his heart on various topics throughout my interview with him.

Having spent his teaching career in the surrounding schools in Orange, Gans was asked what he would say to today’s younger generation as a source of encouragement for their future.

Without hesitating, he laid out a plan.

(1) Have a goal.

(2) Prepare yourself to reach that goal. Faith without works is dead. Start working today on your goal; learn all you can.

(3) Enjoy the work and place where you are currently involved. When the door opens for you to further pursue your goal, you are ready.

(4) Take advantage of the moment. Do what you can do today.

(5) Look at what others have accomplished as a source of encouragement.

(6) Once you have a goal in your mind, nothing can stop you.

Gans was asked what he would say to the young person who might respond to this plan with, “You don’t understand the circumstances I live in.”

Gans replied, “You still have a responsibility. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Make a choice, and the rest will come to you.”

In reference to the position he now holds as the Associate Pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church, Gans pointed out that he had been active in church since childhood.

“So, when I was called into the ministry, it was already inside me since childhood. Teaching is what interests me the most, and is the most rewarding. In fact, I have always been in a teaching role, no matter what job I held, whether in the church or outside the church. It is a gift God has placed within me to teach others,” Gans said. “We all are ministers of some type.

Gans made mention of the storms of life that everyone will most assuredly encounter. He summed it up this way: “There’s something good around the bend. Look for the rainbow after the storm.”

Active in the NAACP since high school, Gans was asked what he was currently involved in as President of the Orange NAACP.

“I am so glad you asked me that question,” Gans said. With tears in his eyes, he began talking about the vision God had given him that has been with him each waking morning for some time, and now he is actively doing something about it.

The theme of the vision is “Out of Orange.” Its purpose is to help youth become more aware of the fact that they can accomplish anything they want to. Living in a small town, being the child of an alcoholic or single parent, or any circumstance a child might find himself in, should not be used as an excuse for not pursuing his dreams and goals in life. Those excuses are only cop-outs.

To pursue this theme, Gans’ goal, and those working with him on this project, is to obtain pictures and biographies of people who once lived in Orange and have become successful in their career field. These pictures and biographies will then be placed in the African-American Museum that is being established in Orange. This is to encourage youth, both black and white, to become what they want to be even though they come from a small town like Orange.

As my interview with Gans was drawing to a close, I asked him if he had any final words. He replied: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a portion of my life. Maybe one day, I will put my life story in a book.”