Franklin Cibula died Tuesday.
He was 66, dead of a gun shot to the chest.
Cibula was an old-Redding staple. He was a brow-furrowing, feather-ruffling, liberal-thinking, underdog-defending old-school attorney.
Franklin Cibula served his words whole, not minced. My memory prompt for his name was “Frankly” Cibula.
Over the years, he sometimes called to chat about columns I’d written, or Redding changes, or local politics, or new restaurants or good food.
The last time I met him for lunch was maybe two years ago, at what he insisted was one of Redding’s “best” restaurants, which turned out to be Shasta College’s student-run bistro.
Professionally, he was best known for his legal work, often to represent poor people, sometimes in controversial cases.
Personally, Cibula never shook the legendary north-state tale of the death-defying crash he survived after his car sailed off a curvy Lake Tahoe-area road. That crash still serves a cautionary tale for at least one local driving school, complete with a poster-sized photo that contains a tiny circle that identifies Cibula’s car, far, far down the face of that massive, steep hillside.
His gait was unsteady after that crash. Some said he was never the same. I can’t say one way or another. I only met him post-crash, so that’s the only Cibula I knew.
Frankly – Franklin – Frank.
Some years back I wrote a newspaper story that involved a serious physical confrontation between Cibula and some Redding police officers. Cibula’s version and the cops’ versions were about as far apart as the top of that Lake Tahoe asphalt and the bottom of the ravine.
We may never know what really happened.
And we may never know what really happened Tuesday to cause Cibula’s death.
Condolences to the Cibula family and friends for their loss.