Frank Bobo, distillery’s fifth master distiller, dies at 90

publicity of Frank Bobo during his time as Jack Daniel Master Distiller
Frank Bobo in a publicity shot during his time as Jack Daniel Master Distiller, a role he held from 1966-89. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel.}

Lynchburg native Frank Thomas Bobo, age 90, passed away on Wednesday, January 15, following a brief hospital stay. To folks around the world, he’s known as the fifth Master Distiller of Lynchburg’s famed Jack Daniel’s Distillery. To locals, he’ll be remembered as “Frog” Bobo, a true southern gentleman, a veteran, Raider fan, and a man with a deep and abiding love for his beloved, Avalee.

He was born in Lynchburg on June 2, 1929 to the late Roy Holt Bobo and Marie Hobbs Bobo. Before his days at the distillery, he could often be found on the Lynchburg Square at Bobo’s Market, his family’s community grocery store. But in 1966, Reagor Motlow – Jack Daniel’s grand nephew – the man who famously gave Frank a nickel every time he saw him, also offered him a job in the still house at Jack Daniel’s. It’s a position that eventually led to him being named Master Distiller in 1966.

Frank Bobo oversaw whiskey-making during a time of rapid growth in the Holler. During his tenure, the distillery went from operating just two stills to five. Through it all, Bobo diligently stuck to the Lincoln County Process. He was committed to making the whiskey the, “same way Jack did” despite the ever-growing pressure to produce more of it. He retired in 1989 but his legacy lives on at Jack Daniel even today. His grandson, Chris Fletcher, now works as Assistant Master Distiller.

Jack Daniel Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher with his grandfather, Frank Bobo, the distillery’s fifth Master Distiller. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel}

When we reached out for comment, Jack Daniel Distillery Senior Vice President and General Manager Larry Combs stated that Frank Bobo was instrumental to the brand’s success.

“Frank and his team worked tirelessly to meet the world’s demand for our Tennessee Whiskey, and Jack Daniel’s would not be what it is today without his many contributions,” Combs stated. “There will never be another one quite like Mr. Frank Bobo. As Master Distiller, he set the standard for Jack Daniel’s and represented the hard work, dedication and attention to our founding principles that we all strive to meet today. But more than anything, Frank was our friend. He was a good man – a family man – and someone we always looked up to and will always remember him fondly. We know he will be missed, but we also know his legacy lives on in his family, in his work and in his service to Lynchburg and our country.”

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Avalee Reed Bobo. Survivors include daughters, Karen (Frank) Fletcher of Lynchburg and Cindy (Kerry) Dove of Nolensville; grandchildren, Chris (Ashley) Fletcher, Kaleigh (Tyler) Hatfield, Allison (Andrew) Gossett, and Sam Dove; and great-grandchildren, Madison Hatfield, Iris Gossett, Liam Hatfield, and Elijah Gossett.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, January 17, 2020 at Jennings-Moore-Cortner Funeral Home in Lynchburg. Funeral Services will follow at 2 p.m. with Rev. Allison Gossett and Rev. Bob Jared officiating. Interment will be at Lynchburg Cemetery with Frank Fletcher, Kerry Dove, Chris Fletcher, Sam Dove, Tyler Hatfield, and Andrew Gossett serving as pallbearers. 

In lieu of flowers, family members ask that you make a donation to the Lynchburg Methodist Church, where both Frank and Avalee were devoted members. Their address is 65 Mechanic Street North in Lynchburg. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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