Friends, family shocked over New Ipswich woman’s sudden death

  • Amanda Franks (far right) pictured with her four children and her husband Andrew. Franks died from complications of the flu in January. She was 38 years old.  Courtesy photo—

  • Amanda Franks, of New Ipswich, died from complications of the flu in January. She was 38 years old.  Courtesy photo—

  • Amanda Franks (center) pictured with her family in September 2017. Franks died from complications of the flu in January. She was 38 years old.  Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 6:14PM

A New Ipswich woman, who is remembered as a very caring and giving person, died of complications from the flu in mid-January.

Amanda Franks’ symptoms progressed quickly, her half-sister Jolene King said in a recent interview with the Ledger-Transcript.

King said the two had been texting back and forth the week Franks fell ill. She said her sister caught a head cold that progressed into a fever on Saturday, Jan. 13. The next day, Franks was positively diagnosed with the flu. On Monday night, King said her sister passed out in the bathroom and had been rushed to the emergency room.

“She obviously wasn’t feeling right,” King said.

Franks was given fluids at the hospital. Staff at the hospital thought Franks had passed out because her fever had climbed so high, but they told her she could go home. Late Tuesday, Franks’ condition took a turn for the worse -- she had vomited and passed out again. Franks’ husband, Andrew, took her back to the hospital.

King said she was texting her sister the entire time, right up until Tuesday. Then the messages stopped.

King said on Wednesday, Jan. 17 her sister’s body went into severe septic shock. Doctors at the Monadnock Community Hospital wanted to life flight Franks to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover but at the time it was snowing and the helicopter wasn’t able to fly in the weather. They started transporting Franks by ambulance to Hanover instead. On the ambulance ride, King said her sister’s heart stopped beating and medical professionals weren’t able to revive her. Franks was 38.

King said her dad called her and broke the news that her half-sister had died.

“I just expected him to say, ‘they’ve got her in the bed she has fluid,’” King said. “I wasn't expecting that.”

She said her dad could barely speak. King was at home at the time and that’s where she stayed because there wasn’t much she could do at that point.

King had her boyfriend called her younger brother Matt to pass along the news.

“I couldn’t really function,” King said of the moments after learning her older sister had died.

The flu has been especially potent this winter in New Hampshire and across the country. The Concord Monitor recently reported in 2017 that there were five deaths attributed to the virus.

Generally the very young and the very old with respiratory and other chronic ailments are most susceptible to the flu, although Franks didn’t fall into either category.

The state’s epidemiologist told the Monitor that this year’s vaccine is estimated to be about 35 percent effective for H3N2. Despite the low poor percentage, the epidemiologist said the vaccine can reduce the severity or length of the illness even if it doesn’t prevent it entirely.

King said that her sister was 9 years older than her. Growing up, King said she always looked up to her sister, maybe even envied her a little bit.

“She always seemed so cool to me,” King said. “... She could do no wrong in my eyes.”

As they grew older, King said they were close and although they were in touch they didn’t see each other all that much.  Life got in the way -- they both have kids, and they lived about an hour away from one another.

“That’s something I’ll have to live with,” King said of the excuses that prevented them from seeing each other often.

King said they would always get together for holidays and birthdays. Recently, their daughters have grown close and would get together for sleepovers so the two moms would see each other during drop-offs.

“It’s just really … I don’t know the word,” King said of her sister’s death. “Maybe surreal. I keep thinking, ‘wow did this really happen?’”

Karen Gibson, who is the cheerleading coach at Boynton Middle School in New Ipswich, said she too was shocked by the news. Gibson said she met Franks when she first moved to the area and the two became friends quickly. Over the years, they fell out of close touch as their schedules got busier, but would see each other around town now and then and catch up. One of Franks daughters recently joined the middle school’s cheer team and so the two women have seen more of one another through practices and fundraising events for the team.

Gibson said Franks came across as reserved at first, but was warm and easy to talk to.

Gibson said she is just a year older than Franks was when she died.

“For me, and my friends, it kind of shook us,” Gibson said about Franks sudden passing. “... It hits close to home.”

In memory of her friend and in support of Franks’ daughter who is on the cheer team, Gibson designed and ordered bows for the entire team. The bows are dark green and have silver angel wings stenciled on the material.

The team recently wore them to a practice in the school’s cafeteria and will flaunt them during their first showcase of the season.

King said their family has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support they have received since Franks died. King said about 300 people showed up to her sister’s calling hours on a recent Wednesday in Jaffrey.

“It’s surprising to me to have all these people coming out and showing support, but it’s also not surprising,” King said. “[Franks’] has touched so many peoples’ lives and now they want to help.”

King said she has also been overwhelmed by the support shown on a GoFundMe site and A TD Bank account that are set up in her sister’s name. She said the money that’s raised will go to Franks’ husband and her four kids that she left behind.