The magic that was Fred Rabil

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

by Robert Holt

Most anyone that lives, has lived, or visited the Franklin area knew Fred Rabil. “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.

Fred Rabil: 1917 - 2015

Fred Rabil: 1917 – 2015

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 nineties 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 our schools 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. His e-mail address is