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William E. Franklin

President of Franklin Associates, Ltd.
2003 DESA Recipient
Primary office:



  • B.S. Geological Engineering, 1957  

William “Bill” Franklin, Prairie Village, Kan., is president of Franklin Associates, Ltd. He received his bachelor’s degree in geological engineering at the University of Kansas in 1957. After graduation Franklin took a position as a petroleum engineer for Cities Service Oil Company in Oklahoma.

In 1965, he earned a master’s degree in industrial administration from Purdue University. Soon afterward he was working at the Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City. At MRI, he and colleague Robert Hunt began developing Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis, which would later become known worldwide as life-cycle assessment. This approach looks at all environmental aspects of a product from creation to final disposal.

Franklin left MRI in 1975 to organize Franklin Associates with his wife, Marge Franklin, and Robert Hunt. Bill Franklin was able to establish nationwide recognition for Franklin Associates in the fields of solid waste management and life-cycle assessment. The team further developed the life-cycle assessment method of evaluating environmental impacts and refined it so this approach is now widely accepted and used in projects sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations. They have been credited with creating a field “used to guide and inspire improvements in the design of everything from cars to computers to cans.” Franklin has made dozens of presentations on life-cycle and solid-waste management in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has been author or co-author of numerous journal articles and book chapters.

He led Franklin Associates as president until 1983 when he was elected to serve on the Johnson County Commission. While he remained active in the firm, he turned leadership over to Marge for a number of years.

Public service has been an important aspect of Bill Franklin’s life. His activities in elected office began in Prairie Village, Kan., where he first was elected to City Council and later served as mayor from 1973 to 1979. He was instrumental in moving the community from strictly a bedroom community of Kansas City to a municipality with a more professional city government. He was integral to the appointment of the first city administrator. In 1980, in recognition of his accomplishments and service as mayor, the city named a park in his honor.

He was elected to the Johnson County Board of Commissioners in 1983. He served on that board until 1989 and twice was chairman. During his tenure he helped develop funding authority for the Johnson County Library, which brought about seven major library construction projects.

Franklin is involved in several national and regional organizations and he remains a strong supporter of the University of Kansas, the School of Engineering and the Kansas Alumni Association.

Bill and Marge Franklin reside in Prairie Village, Kan., They have a son and a daughter and four grandchildren.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times