John Edward Franzreb III, 79
John Edward Franzreb III, 79, who provided horses and carriages to films and movie stars, managed horse shows all over the East coast, including Devon, and served as ringmaster at shows all over the country, died Friday, May 21 at home.
Franzreb grew up on Staten Island where his parents ran a boarding and training facility Clove Lake Stables which was sold in 1985 to make way or private homes. During those years, Franzreb provided carriages and horses to films, television shows and movie stars. As a youngster, he competed in horse shows and had his first stint as a ringmaster at the National Horse Show at just 17 when Honey Craven, who had served as ringmaster at the National for many years, became the show’s manager and tapped Franzreb to replace him as ringmaster. Although he started young as a ringmaster, he quickly moved into management and did not start ringmaster again until the mid-70s.
“John started as assistant manager to Honey at Devon around 1975, then when Honey retired, John managed the show for a few years,” said Doubleday. “David (Distler) started to manage the show in 1987 and I joined him a year later. John began to ringmaster all the big shows after he phased out of managing. He’d managed a saddlebred show in Massachusetts and shows in Virginia as well as Devon. He was ringmaster at all the big shows, Devon, Wellington, Texas, all the indoor shows, the Lexington Junior League and Eastern States. He also stewarded a lot of shows. He was a part of preventing many accidents and took care of many accidents that did happen at his shows,” said Doubleday. “He was very good at that because he was a horseman. I had lots of great times with Big John. He was a great story teller.”
Franzreb was diagnosed with cancer after returning from ringmastering the Pin Oak show in Texas, and the cancer progressed swiftly. “His wife Judy brought him home from the hospital and his children were all going to come for the weekend, but he didn’t make it to the weekend,” said Doubleday.
Franzreb was always dressed immaculately, and he could be seen mornings brushing off his coat until it was spotless while exhibitors were warming up. At The National, he could be found between times in the ring in the Gap, chatting with committee members and other visiitors, regaling them with stories and relating tales with a twinkle in his eye. Any exhibitor who has a photo of a trophy presentation has a photo of Franzreb, and probably happy memories of Franzreb as well.
In addition to his wife, John is survived by their three sons: John IV (Cheryl), Jeffrey (Christine) and Jarad (Crissy), as well as six grandchildren: Dr. Taylor Franzreb, who graduated from veterinary school this month as John III watched on his iPad; John IV, Margaret Rose, Casey, Sean and Ally.