Edith Davis Franklin, a prominent potter, versatile artist, and activist in Toledo's arts community, died of pancreatic cancer Friday at the Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township. She was 89.
"Edith was one of those rare individuals whom everybody knew because she was so supportive of the arts. When she walked into the room in her high-heel clogs and her black turtleneck and black jeans, people would recognize her immediately," said Toledo artist Leslie Adams.
Known as "La Grande Dame of the Arts" and the "Grandmother of Ceramics," Mrs. Franklin was a co-founder of the Toledo Potters' Guild and the founder and a trustee of the Toledo Area Glass Guild. She taught pottery at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg through the 1990s and then until her retirement several years ago.
"She was a pioneer in the arts both locally and nationally. And among her crowning achievements was that she broke the glass ceiling for women in the arts," said Adam Ciralsky, a grandson.
Mrs. Franklin was commissioned to design the 1980 arts awards given by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. The following year, she herself was a recipient of one of the awards, honored for her role in the development of arts organizations, including the potters' and glass guilds, the Papermakers' Guild, and Toledo Botanical Garden.
In 1983, Ohio Designer Craftsmen selected her to receive its award for outstanding achievement as a "recognition by her colleagues and fellow professionals as having made a major contribution to crafts in Ohio through creative and technical excellence, the broadening of the field of knowledge and in professional accomplishments that will be an enduring inspiration for future generations."
Born in Toledo in 1922, Mrs. Franklin was the only child of Rebecca and Stanley Davis. She graduated from Scott High School in 1940, and attended Ohio State University and the former Boston School of Occupational Therapy. She studied art at the University of Toledo in the late 1940s and took clay classes at the Toledo Museum of Art in the early 1950s.
In 1944, she married Howard Franklin, a Navy lieutenant, whom she later divorced.
Mrs. Franklin enjoyed traveling in the United States, Europe, Africa, Russia, and the Orient.
From her trips, she carried home items for collection of art objects. She once had art glass, ceramics, sculpture, and rustic peasant crafts displayed throughout her Ottawa Hills home.
After a trip to Russia, she plunked plump yellow onions on a three-legged ceramic pot she had made years before. "It looked like St. Basil's" — the landmark cathedral in Moscow's Red Square — she recalled with a laugh when talking to a Blade reporter in 1987.
Mrs. Franklin also liked "interesting plants," including a Hoya carnosa, which she had grown from a hoya leaf she received from a friend in the 1950s.
Surviving are her daughter, Nan Franklin Ciralsky; three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is to begin at 11 a.m. today at The Temple, 6453 Sylvania Ave. There will be no visitation. The Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
The family suggests tributes to the Edith Franklin Youth Arts Fund at Toledo Community Foundation Inc., the Toledo Museum of Art, the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or a charity of the donor's choice.
Contact Mike Sigov at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6089.