Brother Franklin

Brother Franklin Bache Molin died suddenly, unexpectedly on Sept. 29, 2015, at the age of 53. Too young, too sad. No words.

This post is to pull together all the Franklinalia I could for myself, family, friends, so we would have a place to find info, pictures, music, memories, when we want to visit the brother we lost. I’ll keep adding to this page, especially before and after this weekend as we mourn together.

Franklin Molin

See this Flickr album for more photos of Franklin.


Franklin Bache Molin died at home in Arlington on September 29, 2015, after a long illness. Molin, born February 26, 1962, in Lynchburg, Virginia, attended Washington-Lee and H-B Woodlawn High Schools (class of 1980) in Arlington before graduating from Amherst College in 1986 and George Mason University School of Law in 1992. He practiced law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for many years before returning to Arlington several years before his death. At Washington-Lee, Molin was a member of both the varsity football and gymnastics teams. He also attained Eagle Scout status as a member of Boy Scout Troop 648 in Arlington.

Molin was nationally known for his expertise in intellectual property law. In Pittsburgh, he was a partner at K&L Gates LLP, one of the nation’s largest law firms, where he handled the accounts of many major national corporations. He also taught intellectual property law at Duquesne University School of Law and published numerous articles in law journals.

Before turning to law, Molin was an active participant in Washington DC’s punk rock music scene in the early 1980s. He helped make H-B Woodlawn an important site for punk shows and later played drums for Iron Cross and guitar for Thorns, both local bands. He also played guitar for several years for Bomb, a San Francisco psychedelic punk rock band.

Molin is survived by his widow Elizabeth Barr Molin and his three children Benjamin Franklin Molin, Louisa Elizabeth Molin, and Caroline Bache Molin; his mother and stepfather, Ann C. and Jackson C. Boswell, of Arlington; his brothers Karl T. Molin, Peter C. Molin, and John B. Molin; and a half-brother, Jason E. Molin. Molin was preceded in death by his father, Sven Eric Molin.


By Ted Molin from the Amherst Magazine

My beloved younger brother Franklin Bache Molin ’86 passed away on Sept. 30, 2015, in Arlington, VA, after a long illness. He was 53 years old. Franklin was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Barr Molin, and three children, Benjamin Franklin Molin (Harvard College ’18), Louisa Elizabeth Molin and Caroline Bache Molin, all of Pittsburgh, PA. He was also survived by his mother and stepfather, Ann Castle Boswell and Dr. Jackson C. Boswell of Arlington, VA; his brothers Karl T. (“Ted”) Molin ’78, Peter C. Molin and John B. Molin; his half-brother Jason E. Molin; and numerous nieces and nephews, including my son, Teo Molin ’11. Franklin was preceded in death by our father, Dr. Sven Eric Molin ’50.

Franklin was born on February 26, 1962, in Lynchburg, VA, where our father was a professor of English at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Our family moved to Arlington, VA, in 1967. There, Franklin attended Washington-Lee and H-B Woodlawn High Schools. In high school, Franklin was a member of the varsity football and gymnastics teams. He also attained Eagle Scout status. Franklin was a cute little kid, sturdy, with a big head of curly gold hair. One of Franklin’s friends sent us a snapshot of Franklin as an eight-year-old cub scout. He is standing in his uniform with his cap perched on his hair, strong, proud, with a calm and steady gaze. Something about his look caught my eye and I studied his face carefully to see what the essence of it was. I think I found it: he had a true look of character and greatness about him, even as a little boy.

Franklin graduated from George Mason University School of Law in 1992. He practiced law in Pittsburgh, PA for many years before returning to Arlington several years before his death. Like his famous ancestor and namesake, Benjamin Franklin, he was fascinated by science and all the potential for scientific improvement in the life of mankind. Franklin became nationally known for his expertise in intellectual property law. In Pittsburgh, he was a partner at K&L Gates LLP, one of the nation’s largest law firms, where he handled the accounts of many major national corporations. Franklin also taught intellectual property law at Duquesne University School of Law and published numerous articles in law journals.

Although he was an accomplished attorney, Franklin’s greatest passion was music. Our mother always encouraged us and challenged us to pursue whatever dreams we wanted, especially artistic dreams. Of her four sons, Franklin responded most fully to the artistic challenge. Before turning to law, he was an active participant in Washington, DC’s punk rock music scene in the early 1980s. Franklin played drums for Iron Cross and guitar for Thorns, both local bands. He also played guitar for several years for Bomb, a San Francisco psychedelic punk rock band.

Franklin loved Amherst College—so much so, we used to joke, that he stayed for six years. Our father taught us to revere Amherst and what it represents as the paradigm of a liberal arts college. Unlike our father, whose idols were G. Armour Craig and other luminaries of the English department, Franklin chose to become a physics major because, he said, he had heard that it was the “hardest” major. Notably, Franklin left a piece of himself at Amherst: a fingertip that he severed on a table saw while working on a project in the basement of Fayerweather Hall. Our family often wondered why he working on a shop project at a liberal arts college. Also unlike our father, who cherished his time at Theta Delta Chi, Franklin lived off-campus for much of his time at Amherst, with a group of friends in a house that was not exactly a showplace from House & Garden. He loved his Amherst friends and vacationed with a number of them in Maine just a few weeks before he died.

Franklin was a wonderful son, brother, father, mentor and friend. He loved his children with a great passion. Franklin was accomplished and well-informed but also kindly and a good listener; hence, he was a fascinating conversationalist. He was intelligent, deep, very interested in people, sweet, humorous and intrepid. Franklin confronted many challenges in his life, many of them of his own making. He was a perfectionist and very demanding of himself. Franklin faced life, especially the challenges of his last years, with courage and determination. In his long final illness, Franklin had the unwavering love and support of our family, especially our mother and stepfather.

By Ben Houghton, delivered at the funeral

I’m sorry that we are all here talking about Franklin in the past tense. I’m also sorry that Franklin did not have a chance to reconnect with a lot of his old friends. I know that he meant to and was working himself up to it.

There really aren’t any words that do justice to what an amazing person Franklin was; I feel like there is a big hole in the world where Franklin should be that nothing else can fill. Since he was my oldest and one of my very best friends, and one of my favorite people in the whole world, I would like to try to convey some small iota of what I loved about him to the people here.

No one person knew everything about Franklin. He was an interesting and complex person. I could not count the thousands of hours of conversations I had with him. I do not consider any of that time wasted, but some of the most valuable stuff of life. You might think you knew what Franklin would say about any given topic, but you would often be wrong because he was always trying to see things from a different angle or seeking a deeper truth.

Franklin was a great teacher and inspired people around him. He really listened to people and cared about people. Franklin taught me a lot of things; so many that I’ve forgotten most of them and they are now a part of me. Before Boy Scouts I barely knew Franklin but Franklin was one of those people who made things easier for other people and led by example. When I first joined the Boy Scouts, hiking and camping were what it was all about, maybe hiking on the Appalachian trail, maybe hiking on the sand of Assateague island, maybe comping in the woods on our annual deep freeze. It was great fun, but there was also plenty of work to be done. It was especially when it was cold or rainy that you might notice Franklin would be doing what needed to be done, rolling up the heavy canvas tents, packing up equipment, or helping other people set up tents. He never griped or complained about hard work, and inspired others to do the same. I can’t remember him ever complaining about his share of the work, in fact he was almost always cheerful about the work he did. Franklin helped me realize that work didn’t have to seem like work, and you could have a good time no matter what you were doing. In a broader sense, life’s experiences could be whatever you want to make of them.

His infectious enthusiasm is another thing we all remember about him. He and I shared a love of punk rock music which led us to many adventures.   Sometime around 1979 Franklin suggested that the two of us should go check out the local bands that were playing around DC at the time. This had not occurred to me before, but I was game to see what it was all about. So we started going into DC to see bands like Tru Fax and the Insaniacs, The Killer Bees, The Insect Surfers, and many others in tiny little clubs and bars. This was a great eye opener for both of us. You could see some very talented, some less talented musicians giving everything they had up on the stage with an audience of 20 or 30 people. This was completely different than watching a nationally known band in a big venue. Pretty soon Franklin learned to play guitar, got his brother John to sing lyrics, and started a punk band around 1980 called the Necros and practiced in the upstairs room of their house. This was the beginning of his life-long obsession with playing in bands, and he never stopped. He was always interested in new sounds and new bands. I was lucky enough to have gone along with him in March to his first gig, drumming with his latest band, at an open mic night.

Franklin often had a vision of how things could be long before anyone else did. Franklin and I shared a love of old things and fixing things, but his projects were quite ambitious compared to mine. In high school I had an old Volkswagen that I just wanted to keep running. Franklin restored a ‘67 Mustang convertible. Or you may remember his Karmann Ghia. But the 1963 Chevy Panel Truck was his magnum opus and he had it for many years.   The rest of us saw this giant old faded blue truck, but Franklin could see the custom-painted hot rod that lurked within.

And he didn’t want to slap it together with Bondo body filler and sell it, he wanted it to be “right”.

He didn’t mind suffering for his art. Sometime around 1986 we shared an apartment in Boston including the future reverend Hank Peirce. I asked Franklin if he was driving to down to Arlington for Christmas. He said he was happy to take me but there was no heat in the truck. Anyway, it was really really cold but we had piled on as much clothing as we could. I had sweaters and coats and 3 pairs of pants, including my second hand red wool plaid pants, but even that was not enough to keep me warm during the 10 hour trip. I guess we were quite a sight to see coming out of the panel truck when Franklin dropped me off at Laura’s parents’ house since her parents still like to remind me of it. Some kind of plaid Michelin man. He never quite finished that beautiful-on-the-inside Chevy Panel Truck but I admired him for his ambition.


In an email thread among the brothers Molin last January, Franklin talked about some of his favorite albums at the moment. Here is a Spotify playlist of the six albums he listed:

Peter found this video of the Zydeco Dogs playing in 2010. It is the only video we know of where Franklin is playing drums. Coincidentally, the video is named for another Franklin, who is waltzing with Abby… but our Franklin can be seen as the camera pans past him on stage behind the kit.


Santa Fe Photos

Maile, Anais, Papa, Lil and I spent Thanksgiving week in Santa Fe where we rented a wonderful 5 level artist retreat on 5 acres in the hills just outside of town. We had a great time, walked a bunch of galleries, ate green chile dishes, hiked the hills, visited the Taos pueblo, and found time to sit around, draw, read, talk and watch TV.

I found a bunch of art I liked and was constantly taking pictures of the beautiful sky and sunset light, all the art and ornamentation. Here a few of my favorites and a slideshow at the bottom of the 297 photos in my Santa Fe set on Flickr.

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November 2014 Singalong at Little Stacy Park

It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous set of people this morning singing along in Little Stacy Park. Maile made a pot of Chai Tea for everyone, Gray played along on uke, lots of old friends and kiddos showed up, and the weather could not have been nicer.

My printed songbooks seemed to be a vast improvement on the transparency projector… we sat in more of a circle and people could actually read the words! Listen below to a few clips from our singalong set, on Soundcloud.





Sundaysong Singalong Has Begun

I’ve finally started doing something I’ve wanted to do for like the last year: Sundaysong Singalong. The idea is simple: have a singalong instead of church. Put another way, it’s like an old Pete Seeger-style folksong singalong, just with a Sunday-morning sort of setlist: songs of  love, beauty, gratitude, wisdom, work, wonder… songs that evoke higher powers, that are sacred without feeling sectarian.

So yesterday I finally gathered a small group to test the concept. A dozen of us gathered in my living room where I projected the lyrics on to a sheet hanging from the hearth. I didn’t snap any pics — the one below of Gray and I playing at the back of the room was by Dan — but I did have my recorder going. Here is a medley of seven of the songs we sang to give you a flavor of the morning’s songs:


Rise Up Singing Songbook

  1. This Land Is Your Land (p.5)
  2. Moonshadow (p. 30)
  3. Big Yellow Taxi (p. 34)
  4. Day-O (p. 49)
  5. The Times They Are A’Changin (G)
  6. The Water Is Wide
  7. Rivers of Babylon (p. 63)
  8. Lean On Me (p. 66)
  9. With A Little Help From My Friends (p. 68)
  10. Keep On The Sunny Side (p. 87)
  11. Amazing Grace (p. 92)
  12. I Shall Be Released (p. 102)
  13. Blowin In The Wind (D) (p. 115)
  14. Imagine (C) (p.116)
  15. Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore (p.62)

Beatles Songbook

  1. Let It Be (p. 206)
  2. All You Need Is Love (p. 18)
  3. Across The Universe (p. 10)

We only made it through #12 before it had been an hour and we called it quits, chatted by the fruit and the donuts, and went our separate Sunday ways. The whole thing was an easy success judging by the effortless joining of strangers in song, the sharing and the smiles.

Last weekend I inaugurated the first Sundaysong Singalong’s touring version, because we were in Houston for the weekend to catch the Magritte exhibit at the Menil. I invited a few Houston friends to join us on the lawn of the Menil for the hour before the museum opened at 11, so at 10 AM, Maile, Anais and I spread our blanket beneath a shade tree and laid out our picnic. Before long Ritiban, Jasmine, and their boy Ian had joined us. Before we were done another mom and her girl had found and joined us.

While Ritiban and I strummed, the kids drew with sidewalk chalk and the mothers watched and talked. (Ian had to be chased down the block several times as he made breaks for it.) It was a wonderful hour after which we all went into the  gallery to roam around in the cool surrealism.









Rocky Mountain High With Jody And The Boys

Jody (Maile’s lil brother) is getting married Aug. 9th and he planned a trip for all his groomsmen for us all to go to Estes Park, CO, where he was a YMCA councilor for two summers after college and has returned several times. There is a hike there that he takes everyone he can get up there to do with him.

So we were all in a cabin, me and five late-twenties athletes, Thurs – Mon. It was a great bachelor-party weekend that revolved around a killer hike we did Saturday. When I say killer, I mean it was stunning terrain, AND it nearly killed me. I’m exaggerating, but I was certainly at the edge of my ability for most of the hike and am amazed I completed it uninjured.

Our cabin was at 5K ft. We drove to 9K ft. to the foot of the mountain and ended up hiking to 12K ft and back over 8 hours. From the beginning I was just trying to keep up with these competitive athletes. There was snow and rivulets running across the trail almost immediately. We all carried about 20-30 lb. packs of food, water and clothes for the changes in conditions.

UntitledAfter about 3 hours, I could definitely tell the air was getting thin and by the time we stopped for lunch, not too far from the top, I had to breathe so deep and hard that it felt like hyperventilating. As long as I focussed on not getting dropped (reminded me of cycling days, sticking to the wheel – now the heel – of the guy in front) and breathing as deeply and rhythmically as possible, I could keep nausea and a headache at bay. If I exerted myself too much or even just stopped the huffing to talk I would feel one or both coming on.

By the time we were approaching the top the winds were 60+ mph and I was now literally drafting off the last guy, trying to not let a foot come between us. As everyone else on the trail turned around, we made it over the switchback top to a flatter area where the trail ended.

Now we were all making our own ways across rocky fields and I took a spill, pushed over by the wind and exhaustion. Though I hit my head mildly and was afraid I sprained my wrist catching myself, I was OK. When we made it across the plateau we arrived at a steep dropoff covered in snow. This was part of Jody’s plan that I had seen videos of: slide down the snowy embankments.

The slides (two of them) were fun, but also soaked our butts and socks and pant legs. Walking in the snow was harder than jogging down it, so I made it out of the snow first, elated that I’d made it past the top, the hard part. And then it got harder as we were really without a path now.

We crossed a boggy area filled with runoff streams and fallen trees, climbing through, trying to find the easiest way, in vain. It just kept getting harder! Then we had to make our way down rocky forested hills trying to find the trail again. Finally we found it, took a break to replace wet socks and pants, and it did finally start to get easier.

By this time I was TOTALLY spent but elated to have made it and not: got hurt, bonked, cramped up, blistered, quit, or got sunburned. The one thing that I seemed to get right was drinking and eating all day. My legs, back and energy held out.

Now I could literally breath easier and the scramble down the trails was a blur of exhaustion and pride. When we came to the .5 mi. marker till the end, we were all relived and then tortured one last time with one last .5 mi. climb. I was encouraged when everyone else was as pained by it as I was by the end.

We fell into the van,  found a Mexican cantina and gobbled down cokes, beers, chips, queso and buffalo tacos and enchiladas. I was comforted that everyone else  seemed to as ragged out and sore for the next two days.

Below is a slideshow of all my Colorado pics posted at Flickr.