Richard Harding Esterly was a Franklin resident and World War II veteran who served as a seaman first class in the Navy and earned the World War II Victory, Philippine Liberation, Asiatic-Pacific, and American Theater medals. He was married to Barbara Jones for 49 years. The pair had four children and five grandchildren.
A television repairman for most of his life, upon contracting heart disease Esterly made it his mission to turn the Town Common into a monument to all of Franklin’s veterans, past and present. He gathered donations to have the World War I monument turned by a crane in an effort to create what is now Veterans Park, complete with monuments for World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In this manner, he single-handedly made sure that no Franklin soldier would ever be forgotten.
Later in life, Esterly was elected to the Franklin Town Council and used this position to fight for the common man, the everyday worker in Franklin. He was also an active member of the American Heart Association and the Franklin Veterans Memorial Committee.
Richard Esterly died at the age of 70 on March 10, 1991.