Benjamin Franklin Award


The Benjamin Franklin Award, the highest award given by the Postal Service, dates back to 1960, when Postmaster General Summerfield approved a Benjamin Franklin Award for presentation to members of special advisory groups, members of Congress, or employees making a contribution not connected with official employment or beyond that recognized in the existing awards program. 

On December 15, 1960, Summerfield presented the Benjamin Franklin Award, in the form of a certificate, to the 12 members of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee:  William H. Buckley, Arnold J. Copeland, Ervine Metzl, Franklin R. Bruns Jr., Bernard Davis, Sol Glass, Harry Lindquist, Abbott Washburn, Robert Sivard, C. Robert Payne, Roberts E. Fellers, and Donald R. McLeod.  Summerfield also presented the award to his liaison to the committee, L. Rohe Walter, the Special Assistant to the Postmaster General, Public Information.

In 1962, Summerfield’s successor, Postmaster General J. Edward Day, approved the Benjamin Franklin Award for appointed (non-career) postal officials who demonstrated outstanding and unusual leadership.  The major purpose of the award was to honor officials who could not be considered for the Department's regular awards, which were limited to career postal employees.  On November 2, 1962, in Headquarters Circular 62-42, Day announced the establishment of the Benjamin Franklin Award and outlined the following criteria:

a.    Recipient will have served at least two years in a responsible position in the Department.

b.   His accomplishments will have had a unique impact on major programs of the Post Office Department.

c.   His accomplishments will have had one or both of the following effects, to an unusual degree: significant improvement of service to the public or general overall improvement of operations.

d.   His accomplishments are within the personal knowledge of the Postmaster General.

The Postmaster General designates persons to be honored by this award; nominations are not made to him.

Frederick C. Belen, Assistant Postmaster General, Operations, received the first Benjamin Franklin Award under the new guidelines on February 25, 1963.  The award was described as "a walnut plaque, appropriately routed to hold a Parian Ware bust of Benjamin Franklin, an original 1847 issue of a five-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp, and an engraved metal plate. Parian ware is a hard white porcelain resembling marble.

In 1965, the two-year employment requirement was waived when the award was issued to Ira Kapenstein, and on July 8, 1969, revised instructions eliminated this requirement.  Since 1971, the non-career requirement has no longer been applicable, as all postal officials appointed since Reorganization have been career employees.  

Photograph of Postmaster General Albert V. Casey holding his Benjamin Franklin Award.
Postmaster General Albert V. Casey.  Casey received the Benjamin Franklin Award shortly before he resigned in August 1986.  He was the first Postmaster General to receive the award while still in office. Postmasters General Anthony Frank (1992),  Marvin Runyon (1998), and John Potter (2010)  also received the award near the end of their terms. 

Benjamin Franklin Award Recipients

(in the format recipient name, recipient title, name of awarding Postmaster General, and date of award) 

Name and Title

Postmaster General

Date

Franklin R. Bruns, Jr.

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

William H. Buckley

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Arnold J. Copeland

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Bernard Davis

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Robert E. Fellers

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Sol Glass 

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee             

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Harry Lindquist

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Donald R. McLeod

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Ervine Metzl    

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

C. Robert Payne          

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Robert Sivard            

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

Abbott Washburn            

Member, Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Summerfield

12/31/1960

L. Rohe Walter           

Special Assistant to the Postmaster General             

Summerfield

12/15/1960

Frederick C. Belen

Assistant Postmaster General, Operations

Day

2/25/1963

James F. Kelleher       

Special Assistant to the Postmaster General for Public Information  

Day

8/8/1963

Ralph W. Nicholson

Assistant Postmaster General, Finance and Administration  

Gronouski

9/17/1964

Ira Kapenstein          

Special Assistant to the Postmaster General for Public Information       

Gronouski

8/27/1965

Richard J. Murphy          

Assistant Postmaster General, Personnel

O'Brien

11/4/1966

William M. McMillan         

Assistant Postmaster General, Operations

O'Brien

11/3/1967

Timothy J. May           

General Counsel

Watson

1/17/1969

Frederick E. Batrus        

Assistant Postmaster General, Transportation

Watson

1/17/1969

David A. Nelson          

General Counsel                                         

Blount

7/24/1969

Paul N. Carlin          

Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General              

Blount

9/25/1970

E. T. Klassen        

Deputy Postmaster General                                  

Blount

11/12/1970

Frank Nunlist              

Assistant Postmaster General, Operations

Blount

6/4/1971

James W. Hargrove          

Senior Assistant Postmaster General, Finance            

Klassen

3/1/1972

Edward Dorsey     

Senior Assistant Postmaster General, Operations         

Bolger

6/2/1979

James V. P. Conway          

Deputy Postmaster General                               

Bolger

7/11/1980

Myron A. Wright                   

Chairman, Board of Governors

Bolger

2/6/1981

Emmett E. Cooper, Jr.       

Regional Postmaster General, Southern Region            

Bolger

1/26/1983

Carl C. Ulsaker                   

Senior Assistant Postmaster General, Special Projects   

Bolger

2/4/1983

C. Neil Benson                   

Deputy Postmaster General                               

Bolger

5/30/1983

Robert L. Hardesty             

Chairman, Board of Governors

Bolger

9/10/1984

Warren M. Bloomberg                       

MSC Manager/Postmaster, Baltimore, Maryland             

Bolger

10/11/1984

William F. Bolger                

Postmaster General                 

Carlin

1/4/1985

Joseph F. Morris                 

Senior Assistant Postmaster General, Employee and Labor Relations               

Carlin

3/1/1985

Francis X. Biglin                  

Senior Assistant Postmaster General, Administration     

Carlin

5/22/1985

Albert V. Casey                    

Postmaster General

Strange (Deputy Postmaster General)

8/7/1986

Jackie A. Strange                

Deputy Postmaster General                               

Tisch

12/8/1986

Louis A. Cox                        

General Counsel                        

Frank

3/6/1990

William Ford                        

Chairman, Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, U.S. House of Representatives

Frank

1/31/1991

Anthony M. Frank

Postmaster General

Coughlin (Deputy Postmaster General)

2/27/1992

Marvin Runyon    

Postmaster General

Board of Governors

5/4/1998

Michael S. Coughlin           

Deputy Postmaster General

Henderson

5/18/1999

Clarence E. Lewis, Jr.       

Chief Operating Officer

Henderson

3/20/2000

Richard Porras   

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Henderson

3/20/2000

James F. Van Loozen        

Manager, Public Policy Communications

Henderson                    

10/13/2000

Richard J. Strasser, Jr.      

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Potter

     11/18/2004

Patrick R. Donahoe

Deputy Postmaster General

Potter

10/19/2009

John E. Potter

Postmaster General

Board of Governors

11/12/2010

HISTORIAN
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE
FEBRUARY 2011