Frederick W. Franz

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Frederick William Franz - (September 12,1893-December 22,1992) was an important figure in the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. He was President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society from 1977 until his death in 1992. Prior to that, he had served as the group's vice president since 1945. He was the oldest person to have led the society, and one of the oldest ever to have had such an important office in any religion. In his last years, he was quite feeble.

Franz was born in Covington, Kentucky, and graduated high school in 1911. He attended the University of Cincinnati where he studied Biblical Greek, having already decided that he wanted to be a Presbyterian preacher. Franz was chosen to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, qualifying him for admission to Oxford University in England. However, before an announcement could be made, he lost all interest in the scholarship and asked that his name be dropped from the list of contestants. He was baptized as a Bible Student (now Jehovah's Witnesses) on November 30, 1913, and left the University in May of 1914. Franz immediately began evangelizing full time as a "colporteur" or "pioneer" (See: Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses, Evangelism).

He is considered, though not officially acknowledged, to have been a leading figure in the preparation of the Witnesses' New World Translation of the Bible, which was prepared anonymously, like most Watchtower publications.

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