Brian David Frantz, formerly of Allentown, PA, died September 4, 2013, after a five-year valiant battle with Metastatic Melanoma; his devoted wife Ronnie was with him. Brian was 52 years old. He was the youngest son of Shirley R. Frantz and the late Eugene P. Frantz, Sr. of Coplay, PA.
From an early age, Brian wanted to be a firefighter. At only 16 years old he volunteered with the Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department in Lehigh Vounty, PA. After high school graduation he joined the U.S. Air Force serving 4 years as a firefighter at Pope Air Force Base, NC and Chanute Air Force Base, IL. At Chanute AFB Brian was an Air Training Command Instructor at the USAF Fire Protection School. After service with the USAF, Brian joined the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) and worked there for 22 years. During that time he achieved the rank of Captain and earned his degree in Fire Administration. Among his various assignments with the ACFD, he was most proud of his time as a Fire Instructor at the ACFD Fire Training Academy, training 4 recruit classes.
Brian was a first responder on September 11, 2001, and received the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce Valor award for performance at the Pentagon on 9-11. His fire rescue is depicted in the book FIREFIGHT, INSIDE THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE PENTAGON ON 9/11 by Patrick Creed and Rick Newman.
Brian was also a brilliant photo-artist, capturing on 35mm film the beauty in the everyday. Some of his recent photos were selected by juried competition for the Penn Medicine "Celebration of Art and Life 2013" and are currently on exhibition at Penn Medicine through January 2014.
In 2005 he met his soul mate Veronica "Ronnie" Gunderson and a year later they were married on a beach at sunset.
In 2008 Brian was diagnosed with Stage III Metastatic Melanoma which progressed to Stage IV two years later. In 2010, through the resolute efforts of the University of Pennsylvania's Dr. Lynn Schuchter, he was enrolled in a Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial of the BRAF-Inhibitor VEMURAFINIB (FDA approved August 2011; marketed as ZELBORAF). In the clinical trial Brian was one of only 86 people enrolled in North Americal; one out of 337 enrolled in the entire world. On VEMURAFINIB he benefited for over 2 1/2 years, far exceeding typical overall survival time.
In lieu of flowers and to honor Brian's battle against cancer, donations can be made in his name to the Melanoma Program at the Abramson Cancer Center. Donations should be made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and sent to Abramson Cancer Development, 3535 Market St Suite 750, Philadelphia PA 19104. Support is needed to continue clinical research and education.
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