TUPELO • Hassell Franklin is best known for decades of furniture manufacturing, but later this month he will be honored for building up the region.

On April 23, the Regional Rehabilitation Center will honor Franklin with its fifth annual Red Rasberry Humanitarian Award. The event at Tupelo’s Summit Center will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. and program and dinner at 7 p.m.

“He’s done far more than folks ever realize,” said Kay Mathews, RRC retired executive director and dinner chairwoman. “We wanted to give him a public thank you.”

Franklin has lent his support and expertise to guide local corporations, economic development, education and philanthropy. He has served on a number of boards including BancorpSouth, North Mississippi Health Services, CREATE Foundation, Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi and Mississippi State University.

“He’s been a long-time supporter of Regional Rehab,” which serves hundreds of children and adults each year without charge, Mathews said. “He was particularly helpful in getting the dyslexia department up and going.”

Franklin, a 1953 Tupelo High School graduate, founded Franklin Corporation in 1970 and remains chief executive officer. The Houston-based company has grown into one the largest privately-owned furniture manufacturers in the United States.

Honoring Franklin will be BancorpSouth chairman and chief executive officer Dan Rollins, retired furniture executive Mickey Holliman, and Ripley banker Bobby Martin, a previous Rasberry honoree. Another honoree, State Rep. Steve Holland, will give a brief history of the center. Scott Reed will serve as master of ceremonies. 

RRC has been honoring the region’s humanitarians since 2014. In addition to Martin and Holland, RRC has also recognized Three Rivers executive director Randy Kelly and the Brevard family of Tupelo. The events have raised nearly $350,000 for RRC, which provides physical, occupational and speech therapy, audiology and early intervention services without charge.

Those who have benefited from Regional Rehab’s services will be represented at the dinner by Hopson Daughdrill, who will give the invocation, and Sam Pittman, who will sing with his sister Nan accompanying him on the keyboard.

The dinner is named for long-time RRC executive director John “Red” Rasberry.

Tables are no longer available, but a limited number of individual tickets can be purchased for $125 by calling (662) 842-1891 or visiting through Wednesday.

April 15- This story was updated to reflect the full program of speakers. 

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