Monday, September 07, 2009

Tribute to Nailah Franklin

I never knew this young woman, but her story touched me deeply back in September 2007 and I haven't forgotten her. When she was first reported missing, her friends and family leaped into action. Her mom and sisters were on TV, making sure her name and face and Impala were known to everyone. Nailah had worked at a competitive ad agency, Leo Burnett, and her former coworkers were out in force, handing out "Have You Seen Me" flyers to people like me as we boarded the el trains.

When her body was found a few days later, I was so sad for those who loved her. Nailah Franklin must have been a very special woman to have engendered such love, respect and loyalty from those whose lives she touched.

The Chicago Tribune recently (August 17) ran a story updating us on the case. I'm not including a link because the story necessarily mentions the suspect in her murder case. I am not a newspaper, I don't have to be fair or balanced or complete in my reporting. I want to shine the spotlight exclusively on this special woman. I owe much to Dawn Turner Trice's column, but if you want to read it yourself, you'll have to find it yourself.

Nailah Franklin was one of 5 daughters.

She graduated first from Homewood Flossmoor High School and then the University of Illinois.

She spent 5 years at the prestigious ad agency, Leo Burnett.

She moved to Eli Lilly in 2006 because she believed a sales job would help give her greater control over her finances and career.

She loved "all things Oprah."

She loved clothes and had a terrific sense of fashion.

Her mother told the Tribune that she wondered why Nailah "always seemed to be in such a hurry to live life. I think her spirit knew she had such a short time on this Earth and she had to cram in as much living as possible."

An older sister remembers her "little baby voice that she never grew out of, but she was bold and spirited, headstrong and beautiful."

Her father recalls "an exceptionally smart woman" and says that not a day goes by that he doesn't miss her.

A younger sister smiles when she remembers CD/DVD collection because "it was such a reflection of her -- a combination of old school songs by Luther Vandross
and Tae Bo exercise DVDs."

Her youngest sister tried to follow Nailah to Urbana but she wasn't accepte
d. She treasures Nailah's words of encouragement as she applied to other schools. "When we learned she had died, I considered quitting the nursing program. But I remembered how much she believed in me and I thought it was important to keep going."

She volunteered at the Chicago Urban League.

She was eulogized as "not a star, but a superstar."

She was just 28 when she died.

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