McHenry County Pillars: Marengo Lawyer Herb Franks

Herb Franks - FGM Law

Call Herb Franks a trailblazer, and he’ll bristle.

Bring up the fact that the Marengo lawyer won the first $1 million verdict in McHenry County, or that he was the only attorney from this county to serve as the president of the Illinois Bar Association, and he’ll talk about the competitive drive deep within him.

Point to his house through the window of his office, and the Democrat’s face will curl into a smile. He’ll tell a story about what growing up on a dairy farm taught him about living. He’ll tell a story about home.

At 84 years old, Franks is the kind of guy with no plans of retiring.

“They’ll carry me out,” Franks said, sitting in the library of Marengo-based Franks, Gerkin and McKenna law firm, where he is managing partner among nine lawyers in an office that has become a manifestation of Franks’ personality: bookish, adventurous, irreverent.

A walk through the hallways peels back the curtain on what Franks loves. One room features a collection of whopper fish he’s caught over the years.

His desk is piled with papers and case files. His shelves are covered in trinkets from his travels. On one wall hangs an original Salvador Dali illustration of Don Quixote, the noble knight of Spanish literature who set out on horseback to seek romance and adventure.

In Don Quixote, Franks found a kindred spirit.

Franks grew up on a Marengo dairy farm, where he woke up before the sun every day to milk the cows and returned at dusk to repeat the seven-days-a-week process.

He eventually left the Marengo farm to graduate from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He was drafted into the Army and met his wife, Eileen, in 1956 while stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. They married in 1957.

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