Richard “Dick” H. Frank, Jr., Counsel Emeritus for the Country Music Association and the man who prepared and filed the corporate charter for CMA as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame, passed away today on his 90th birthday.
“Richard was a beloved member of our CMA family,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “He passionately dedicated his time and experience to serving our association and the Country Music community. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
“Dick brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to CMA as the organization was defining its path,” said Joe Galante, CMA Foundation Chair and former CMA Chairman of the Board. “But what I’ll always remember was his smirk. It was never a full smile, just enough to make you wonder if he was just joking or if he was serious.”
Dick was highly respected by the CMA Board,” said former CMA Executive Director Ed Benson. “He was instrumental in so many ways to the organization working pro bono for CMA for 40 years. His advice and guidance was invaluable, and I considered him a second father. I know I join so many others within our community by saying he will truly be missed.”
Richard H. Frank, Jr., was born in Columbia, Tennessee. He earned a BA degree from Vanderbilt University in 1950 and earned a law degree from Vanderbilt a year later in 1951. After earning his law degree Frank served in the United States Navy and while stationed at Great Lakes Naval Air Station, he met and soon married Katherine “Kitty” Barbehenn. After leaving active duty, he attended New York University where he earned a Master of Law degree in Taxation in 1956.
Frank returned to Nashville where he began a career in the private practice of law that he would continue for almost fifty years. He was a member of the Tennessee Bar and was also admitted to the Bars of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee; the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
After filing the corporate charter for the Country Music Association in 1958, he began serving as volunteer legal counsel for the newly formed association and continued to serve for almost 40 years. Although Frank began his private practice of law specializing in taxation and estate planning, he soon began developing a copyright and entertainment law practice. By the 1970s and 1980s he was representing some of the leading writers, artists and publishers in Country Music and was recognized nationally and internationally as a pre-eminent copyright and entertainment counselor. He mentored other lawyers in his firm and taught Entertainment Law at Vanderbilt Law School and Copyright Law at the Nashville School of Law. He has been active in the leadership of the Copyright Society of the United States and helped found and lead the Copyright Society of the South. Frank also served as a trustee and trustee emeritus of the Country Music Foundation.
Frank was an avid flower gardener and grew daffodils, camellias and roses and showed them throughout the United States and in Europe. He was active in the leadership of the National Daffodil Society and the National Camellia Society.
Frank is preceded in death by his first wife Kitty. Survivors include his current wife Sandra, son R. Horton Frank, III and daughter Mary Delphia Frank Scobey.
Counsel Emeritus Richard “Dick” H. Frank, Jr. retired from his 40 years of service with the Country Music Association in 2002. L to R: Ed Benson, former CMA Executive Director; Frank and Jo Walker Meador, former CMA Executive Director Photo Credit: CMA Archives