From the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
It is with great sadness that the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania marks the passing of Larry Frankel, who served as Legislative Director to the organization from 1992 through 2008 and Executive Director from 1996 to 2001. At the time of his death, Larry was the State Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in its Washington Legislative Office.
"There is a tear in the fabric of the ACLU of PA family. We have lost a dear friend, a skilled strategist, and a passionate fighter for civil liberties. And on top of those superlatives, Larry possessed a wit sharper than any saber and could make us all laugh," said Nancy Hopkins, Executive Director of the ACLU of PA.
An incredibly savvy tactician, Larry wore the title of lobbyist proudly. He worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to further the cause of civil rights and civil liberties for all Pennsylvanians. He was a passionate champion of a woman's right to choose, LGBT rights, privacy, and the rights of those largely ignored by society, including prisoners and immigrants.
In a field better known for bitter divisiveness, Larry brought together legislators and organizations from across the political spectrum. During his career, he worked in coalition with allies as diverse as prosecutors, defense attorneys, the faith community, business leaders, unions, gun-rights advocates, and immigration activists, among many others. He commanded the respect of all who knew him, even those who vehemently disagreed with the ACLU.
"He was so effective without money, without a PAC, and with only moral persuasion. He had so much integrity and honesty. You could rely on him to tell you the truth, even if it hurt his cause," said State Representative Babette Josephs, a longtime friend and colleague.
In addition to his successes in the legislature, Larry devoted considerable time to mentoring the next generation of civil libertarians and always had time to provide advice and moral support to his colleagues. Despite leaving the ACLU of Pennsylvania in 2008, he continued to stay in close contact with staff, providing invaluable insight.
"I've lost my mentor, but more importantly, justice has lost a friend. Thousands of Pennsylvanians were positively impacted by the work Larry did, and most of them never knew him or even knew his name," said Andy Hoover, current Legislative Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, who worked closely with Larry over the past four and a half years.
Larry's many achievements during his years in Harrisburg included advocating for reform to the state's Right to Know Law; defeating efforts to amend the state constitution to ban same sex marriage and other benefits for same sex couples; advocating for changes to the commonwealth's jury selection law to allow a greater pool of people to serve; defeating efforts to disenfranchise thousands of Pennsylvania voters through photo ID requirements and through bans on voting rights for former offenders; and stopping an effort to introduce school vouchers in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. Larry also served on the legislature's advisory committee on geriatric and seriously ill prisoners.
Larry was a native Californian and attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied comparative literature. He received his law degree from Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley in 1981. He is survived by his father, two brothers, a sister, his former longtime partner Andy Chirls, and many, many friends.
The family requests that donations be made to: American Civil Liberties Foundation P.O. Box 40008, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or the Fairmount Park Conservancy, 1617 JFK Blvd., Suite 1670, Philadelphia, PA 19103. The Philadelphia Horticultural Society will work with Fairmount Park to create and maintain a garden or grove.
Plans for a memorial service in Philadelphia will be announced shortly.