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Houston outdoorsman serves as role model for change and inclusion on the water ways

Written by on February 15, 2023

By: Karina Hollingsworth

Four W’s Fishing Team promotes diversity and safety while on the water ways.

It was a sunny, cool day at Clear Lake Park with a light breeze that quickly came and went. The breeze allowed the fishing line to freely float in the peaceful water while awaiting the first bite of the day.

“It’s relaxing.” Wanda Franklin said.

This is the kind of day Willard Franklin III and his family wants everyone to experience.

“My name is Willard, my wife’s name is Wanda, my son is Willard IV, and my daughter is Wendy, Franklin III said. “That’s the Four W’s Fishing Team.

Together the family works to keep everyone safe on the water and encourages people of all races to enjoy fishing and outdoors

Members of the Four W’s Fishing Team Wanda, Wendy, Willard III and Willard IV Franklin, works to keep everyone safe on the water.

“My mission is safety, diversity, inclusion, conservation and careers,” Franklin III said.

At a young age the local outdoorsman and fisherman noticed there were not many fishermen that looked like him and decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I grew up in Sunnyside in Houston, Texas, “Franklin III said. “I’ve been watching fishing television shows for years. Until recently, you never saw anyone that looked like my dad, let alone me, promoting the outdoors.”

The outdoorsman says his strong ties to fishing are deep-rooted in the quality time he spent with his father as a kid.

As Franklin III reminisces on the times he spent with his father, Willard Franklin Jr., a look of surprise sneaks on his face as he realizes how much time has passed.

“My dad took me fishing with him 57 years ago, Franklin III said. “Wow!” My job was to catch piggy perch. He brought me along with him every weekend. I would get his truck ready. I looked forward to it every Saturday.”

After bonding with his father for many years over their love for fishing the outdoorsman developed a passion for water safety.

“Texas is number two in the nation for losing souls on the water, said Franklin III. “Whenever we get our truck, we get our life jacket, and we do motor maintenance. It’s my mission and my goal to bring awareness to as many people as I can.”

Even though the Director and CEO of the Four W’s Fishing Team takes every precaution and double checks everything before he sets sail on the water sometimes mishaps happen unexpectedly.

While out on the water promoting safety the CEO has an encounter with the Texas Game Wardens who randomly stops him to verify he has the proper safety essentials on his boat.

“We weren’t out five minutes, said Franklin III. “The very first boat we saw was the Texas Wildlife Game Wardens. What do you think they did when they saw us? Red and blue lights were flashing.”

Franklin III was prepared for everything the Texas Game Warden asked for.

“For water safety inspections you’ll need life jackets for everyone on board, a type four throwable, a horn or a whistle, and a fire extinguisher, “Warden Derrick Lopez said.

According to the CEO stops like these are not uncommon, but as a water safety enthusiast he understands the stops are to keep everyone safe.

After the untimely stop Franklin III proceeds on his journey to catch fish which proved to be a difficult at first.

The experienced fisherman’s persistence paid off as he got the first bite of the day. As he tugged at the fishing pole while reeling the fish in a look of satisfaction came across his face.

Willard Franklin III pictured with is first catch of the day.

“It just doesn’t get much better than this, said the fisherman.”

Karina Hollingsworth is a multimedia journalist who has a passion for touching people’s hearts through her storytelling