Tim and JDF.jpg

Branson Tri-Lakes News Editor Tim Church and Power Rangers Actor Jason David Frank at Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con in 2014.

Like fans around the world, I am heartbroken as the Power Rangers fan community said goodbye to Actor Jason David Frank.

On Sunday, Nov. 20, it was announced Frank had died at the age of 49. Best known for playing Tommy Oliver in Power Rangers franchise, Frank donned several ranger suits, but was recognized best as the original green and white rangers. 

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why is Tim, the editor of the newspaper, writing about the passing of a Power Ranger? The answer is, because he was one of my childhood heroes. 

Jason David Frank was Tommy and Tommy was Jason David Frank. As a child, I knew no different. As an adult I came to know the actor from the character, but the kindness, respect and humility in Tommy’s eyes belonged to JDK. I truly hoped he knew how much he meant to his fans and how much they loved him.

If you told me as a kid that one day I would not only have the chance to meet JDF in person, but also visit with him, I would have never believed you.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was my first comic convention ever: Wizard World St. Louis 2014. When plans to attend the convention were in place and JDF’s name appeared on the guest list, I believe I actually smiled that day until my face hurt. I was going to have the opportunity to meet the man who helped define my childhood.

Before going to his table to see him and receive his autograph, I went to have my photo opportunity session at the con. I’m sure I said something as I entered the room made of cloth and pvc pipes, but I’m unsure of what it was. Most likely it was pure gibberish as I walked up to this man in green. He put his hand on my shoulder and welcomed me into the booth. I truly think the look on my face says it all. As I stood next to JDF in his Green Ranger suit, I was no longer 24 years old; I was a child again. The pure joy that enveloped my heart and soul in meeting this man was unlike any other. Though we only spent mere seconds together, time slowed down for me. It was a wonderful feeling.

Later that day at his booth, I joined the multitude of people already in line to visit with the man who brought Tommy Oliver to life. I saw people of all ages. A perfect combination of fans who knew him from the first day he donned the green ranger suit, to those whose introduction didn’t happen until they met Dr. Oliver in Dino Thunder. Regardless, the interaction between those in line was almost non-existent as we all looked forward, our eyes focused on JDF behind his table taking in his every word as he visited with the fan in front of him.

Knowing I was going to get to meet him, I wanted to ensure I had something special for him to sign. I wanted to have something that not only represented my love for Power Rangers, but also a definitive piece of the ‘90s. Thus I settled on the box of a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers VHS tape episode featuring his first appearance in the series.

As I reached the front of the line, I found myself a part of a group discussion with JDF as he was working with his agent at the table to get his daughter Jenna tickets to see Justin Bieber. He turned to his fans to ask our thoughts on the Biebs. You can imagine the response from the group of nerds who surrounded him. A resounding no echoed through the convention halls.

As my time to visit with JDF one-on-one came, he began to sign his name on my VHS Tape Box, which I asked be made out to me and my brother Christopher. He looked up and smiled at me as he passed my now priceless piece of Power Rangers history back to me. I managed to speak a heartfelt thank you to him for coming to Missouri and for signing my piece.

As my time in front of him was coming to an end I was struggling how exactly to say all of what I wanted to say. I knew I wanted to thank him for being such a pivotal part of my childhood, the impact he had on me and the Power Rangers franchise, how amazing he was with his fans in person and on his socials, and what he meant to me. As I prepared to walk away, my brain finally began to do its job. I’ll never forget the words that escaped from my mouth and the reaction he had to them. I said, “Thank you for everything” as I stared straight at him. It was simple and short, but I truly believe it got the message across. In response, he shared his slight smile with me and a nod, before turning to address the next fan in line.

For these editorial pieces, I’ve always asked my new team to find and include the positive in their writing. Though difficult for me, I believe I found mine. That day in 2014 was one of the most unforgettable of my life. I am so grateful for this memory and for the opportunity I was given to meet a childhood hero. My time with JDF is one I will treasure forever. 

My prayers go out to his family, his friends and all his fans.

As there really are no words to properly express how I’m feeling right now, I will share the words I shared with my childhood hero nearly a decade ago.

I love you JDF. 

Thank you for everything. May the power protect you. Always.

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