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Frank Major, chief technology officer for the nation’s second-largest multiple listing service, died unexpectedly on April 27, leaving behind a shocked real estate community in mourning. He was 52.
Brian Donnellan, CEO of Bright MLS announced Major’s passing on LinkedIn Monday afternoon.
“It is with great sadness that I share some unexpected news with the real estate community regarding the loss of one of our beloved colleagues,” Donnellan wrote.
“This past Thursday, Bright MLS Chief Technology Officer Frank Major passed away suddenly. Our hearts are with his wife Aisha, their children, and their extended family. Please keep them in your thoughts.”
Major joined Bright MLS, with more than 98,000 subscribers across six states and Washington, D.C., in the Mid-Atlantic region, in October 2018 as its first CTO, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Major worked at Freddie Mac for seven years starting in 1997, followed by nearly 10 years at USAA, and then shorter stints at Capital One, PenFed Credit Union and Amazon-as-a-Service platform provider Amify before going to Bright.
“Frank was deeply influential in the real estate industry because of his many contributions, tremendous expertise, and professionalism, but above all else we will remember his kindness, integrity and dedication,” Donnellan said.
“Quite simply, he was one of our most admired and treasured colleagues and his loss is felt by every member of Bright’s team. Like many of us, I will greatly miss his friendship.”
Frank Kyle Major Sr. was born September 12, 1970, in Christian, Kentucky. He grew up in Springfield, Virginia, where he attended West Springfield High School. He is survived by his wife Aisha Williams and six children.
Asked for his cause of death, Donnellan told Inman, “We understand that Frank woke up on Thursday feeling ill and passed away shortly thereafter.”
“Frank will first be remembered as a friend and treasured colleague,” Donnellan said.
“Frank accomplished so many things in his storied career – holder of five patents, he was truly a brilliant man. But beyond the professional accomplishments, the most important thing we should all remember Frank for is Frank the person. Kind, compassionate, caring – he was all of those things, and he set a sterling example for us all.”
“[We] all miss Frank terribly, he was one of a kind,” Donnellan added.
Asked whether someone else will step into Major’s shoes as CTO either temporarily or permanently, Donnellan said the company’s primary consideration at the moment was to ensure Major’s family has the support and care they need.
“With that said, we did want to reassure folks that Bright has succession and contingency plans to ensure continuity of projects and operations — plans that Frank and the leadership team previously put in place,” Donnellan said.
“We will continue to deliver high-quality work that benefits our subscribers, shareholders, brokers and partners like we have always endeavored to do — to us, that’s the best way we can honor Frank’s memory and legacy.”
Donnellan’s post prompted an outpouring of grief from more than five dozen of Major’s colleagues in the industry.
“Wow! Shocked and saddened to learn this,” wrote Frank Chimento, co-founder and co-CEO of HomeLendia Mortgage. “Really loved my engagements with Frank over the years. [A] very smart and kind man.”
Caitlin McCrory, vice president of industry relations at Anywhere, wrote, “I’m devastated by this news, and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones. Frank was a truly innovative leader and I loved his contributions to the RESO Board of Directors.”
Bill Spies, product owner at IPT Associates, echoed the thoughts of many when he wrote, “This is incredibly sad. Frank was one of the most gracious, intelligent, knowledgeable and supportive managers I ever worked with. His calm demeanor and enduring smile will be remembered.”
Jon Coile, vice president of MLS and industry relations at HomeServices of America and a member of Bright’s Executive Committee, reminisced about Major’s first meeting with Bright’s board of directors.
“I remember Frank’s first meeting with the Bright board, explaining some really challenging technology issue that was way, way over our heads with an analogy about an old pickup truck leaking oil or something crazy like that,” Coile wrote.
“It was actually a great analogy that made it all make sense but damn it, I can’t remember the details. I’m so mad because I can’t just pick up the phone and ask Frank what the details were of that stupid pickup truck that I can’t remember. In truth I’m just so sad that we lost a great soul, a bright intellect, and a calm and peaceful leader. Frank may be gone but he has left a big mark on our future.”
In June 2020, Major sent a message to staffers amid unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd, which Inman subsequently published. He urged the real estate industry to work toward “achieving safe, inclusive neighborhoods that thrive with equitable opportunities for everyone regardless of race, color or creed.”
“In real estate, we have more power than most other sectors to create communities and opportunities for ourselves and our neighbors to have discussions, ‘walk the talk,’ and be the positive change that leads to togetherness and overcomes divisiveness,” he wrote.
Almost exactly a year ago, The Washington Post profiled Major and Williams’ McLean, Virginia, ranch home, which the couple had custom built for their family of nine, including six children who then ranged in age from 3 to 23, and Major’s mother-in-law. The family moved into the 6,133-square-foot home in 2018 and the news outlet wrote that one of Major’s favorite aspects of the home was the sunshine throughout the rooms.
“I love to sit in the sun, and I even work outside when I can,” Major told WaPo. “In the evening, we can put the gas fireplace outside on and the landscape lighting is beautiful. It feels like a retreat without having to leave.”