The magic that was Fred Rabil

Published 4:37 pm Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Robert Holt

Most anyone that lives in, has lived in, or has visited the Franklin area knew Fred Rabil, who died March 20 in Franklin. “Let’s meet at Fred’s” were words frequently stated by both locals and visitors. Fred Rabil was usually the first and last person you saw when you visited his family’s restaurant on Main Street.

His life was the classic example of the great American success story.

Email newsletter signup

Born in 1917, he was the oldest son of immigrants who came to America from Lebanon around 1900. At age 14, he hopped trains and traveled the U.S. looking for work.

He returned to Franklin to work in his uncle’s bakery. From there he opened his own restaurant 70 years ago, and it would become an institution in itself. Fred was a fixture there into his 90’s, welcoming guests as they entered the front door.

He married and had three sons who were educated at three of Virginia’s finest universities and who have become successful in their own lives.

The sons married, and their spouses have made major contributions to our area, as well.

The Rabil family has always supported charitable causes, especially in the area of education.

In fact, with the possible exception of the Camp family, I cannot recall any family that has done more to support schools in the Franklin area in so many different ways.

Many members of Fred’s family have played key roles in the education of children, not only at the local level but at the state level, as well.

There can be no question — Fred Rabil’s life was the perfect example of the American success story!

ROBERT N. “BOB” HOLT a Franklin native, is a retired professor of business management and real estate at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral studies degrees from Virginia Tech, and was a member of the university’s Corps of Cadets. Email him at