An agreement between the Optometry Association of Louisiana (OAL) and Southern College of Optometry (SCO) last month has resulted in the transfer of a $1.5 million trust to SCO made possible by the estate of the late Dr. Mark W. Franks, a 1955 SCO graduate and longtime Louisiana optometrist.
Following his death in 1989, Dr. Franks and his wife, Mary, bequeathed approximately $500,000 to the OAL to establish a low interest loan trust for Louisiana optometry students who attended SCO. After several years of legal and financial transactions to establish the trust, it finally came to fruition in 2000, at which time the college agreed to help administer the loan program with oversight from the OAL.
To expand upon the potential impact originally envisioned by Dr. Franks more than 30 years ago, an agreement was reached this year to donate the existing trust fund and its control to SCO to form the Mark W. Franks and Mary Franks Scholarship and Loan Fund. The fund's total current value is approximately $1.5 million, making it the single largest bequeathment gift in the college's 87-year history.
Dr. Franks was born in 1922 in Owasso, Oklahoma. After working in construction, he served in World War II then pursued an engineering degree before switching to optometry. He worked his way through SCO by serving as a draftsman on a Memphis railroad yard.
SCO was established in Memphis in 1932 and is the only accredited optometry college in Tennessee. One of only 23 optometry colleges in the nation, it has a student body of about 500.