Brian David Frantz

January 28, 1961September 4, 2013

Brian David Frantz, Springfield, Virginia, [formerly of Allentown, PA] died Wednesday, September 4, 2013, after a 5-year valiant battle with Metastatic Melanoma; his devoted wife was with him. Brian was only 52 years old. He was the youngest son of Shirley R. Frantz and the late Eugene P. Frantz, Sr. From an early age, Brian wanted to be a fire fighter. At only 16 years old he volunteered with the Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. After high school graduation he joined the U.S. Air Force serving 4 years as a fire fighter at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina and Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. At Chanute AFB Brian was an Air Training Command Instructor at the USAF Fire Protection School. After service with the USAF, Brian joined the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) and worked there for 22 years. During that time he achieved the rank of Captain and earned his degree in Fire Administration. Among his various assignments with the ACFD, he was most proud of his time as a Fire Instructor at the ACFD Fire Training Academy, training 4 recruit classes. Brian was a first-responder on September 11, 2001, and received the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce Valor award for performance at the Pentagon on 9-11. His fire rescue is depicted in the book FIREFIGHT, INSIDE THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE PENTAGON ON 9/11 by Patrick Creed and Rick Newman. Brian was also a brilliant photo-artist, capturing on 35mm film the beauty in the everyday. Some of his recent photos were selected by juried competition for the Penn Medicine “Celebration of Art and Life 2013” and are currently on exhibition at Penn Medicine through January 2014. In 2005 he met his soul mate Veronica “Ronnie” Gunderson and a year later they were married on a beach at sunset. In 2008 Brian was diagnosed with Stage III Metastatic Melanoma which progressed to Stage IV two years later. In 2010, through the resolute efforts of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Lynn Schuchter, he was enrolled in a Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial of the BRAF-Inhibitor VEMURAFINIB (FDA approved August 2011; marketed as ZELBORAF). For the study Brian was one of only 86 people enrolled in North America; one out of 337 enrolled in the entire world. On VEMURAFINIB he benefited for over 2 ½ years, far exceeding typical overall survival time. In lieu of flowers and to honor Brian’s battle against cancer, donations can be made in his name to the Melanoma Program at the Abramson Cancer Center. Donations should be made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and sent to Abramson Cancer Development, 3535 Market St Suite 750, Philadelphia PA 19104. Support is needed to continue clinical research and education. A memorial service will be held Thursday, September 12, 2013, 11am, at Murphy’s Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203.


  • Memorial Service Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brian David Frantz

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Matt Daly

October 1, 2013

I was in ACFD recruit class 50 in 1998, when Brian was the training captain. Being in charge of a recruit class is no easy task, but he successfully got all of us through it, and we are better firefighters and people because of it. I think I speak for all of my fellow classmates when I say that Brian's positive influence on our lives will never be forgotten.

September 21, 2013

Dear Ronnie,

I was saddened to hear of Brian's passing. As you face this challenging time, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I know Brian will be missed by many.

Brian's appreciation of photography is something we share. I will always be grateful to him for his efforts to revive our department's monthly newsletter, Fireline. He managed to publish a number of copies, many of which I contributed articles and photos. It was a nice way to share what members of our department were doing and was something our department enjoyed and was proud of.

Brian has been an inspiration over the years as he battled against his illness. His continual wins and years of success through experimental drug therapies give us hope for cure. While we have lost the familiar body and face of the person we recognized as Brian Frantz, his spirit is always alive and well in the hearts and minds of those who love and appreciate him.

My thoughts and prayers are with you as you begin your healing process.

Nick J. Salameh
Arlington County Fire Department

Jay Lin

September 17, 2013

Dear Ronnie,
I am deeply sadden to hear about your loss. His valiant fight against this cancer seem so representative of the kind of person he was. He will be missed, but always remembered.

David Hehr

September 16, 2013

Dear Ronnie,

I have been retired from the department for close to 5 years now and just receiveed the news of Brian's passing. I had the honor to work for and beside Brian for several years of my career. He was a dedicated firefighter, friend and brother to many. He will be missed. My condolences to you and your family for your loss. May God be with you.

Katherine Manning

September 16, 2013

Aunt Ronnie. I am so sorry to hear about Brian. I know it has been a hard few years, but I can also imagine all the beauty that came out of it as well. I pray that Christ's peace will just flood over you and that you feel His love covering you during this time. I am honored to have called him my uncle, he seemed to have a heart of gold.
I love you dearly and will continue to send my good vibes your way.

September 12, 2013

Dear Ronnie, It's been a while but I have fond memories of many plays and cast parties, often with Dustin delightfully underfoot. He did like to play with the make-up.

I am so sorry for your loss but treasure what you had and hold it dear.
Life is a gift,it's not a promise. Brian is at peace. I wish that for you and Dustin.

Sandy "Sam" Wheeler

Tom Flatt

September 12, 2013

So sorry to hear of Brian's passing. Although I never met him, he's sounds like an amazing man, brave, creative and kind. I hope you find solace in his memory, strength from your loved ones, and serenity knowing he will be forever in your life, for in the spirit of love,we are eternally one.

Michael Gowen

September 12, 2013

Dear Ronnie-

Brian was the Captain assigned to training when I was hired in the fire department. It was clear that he had a deep love of the fire service and a desire for our department to be the best. On September 11th, I exited the Pentagon with my crew to the inner core to rest and sat down next to Captain Frantz who had just come out with his crew; it was a nice moment in time on a horrible day. He will be very much missed.

Michael Gowen
Battalion Chief, ACFD
Recruit Class 51

Liz Isbell

September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013

Dear Ronnie. We are just so sorry for your loss. Much love to you and Dustin.
Mike deBlois and Jean Fallow