Franke, Mary (Nee Winkleman ). Mary was a wife and mother whose greatest accomplishments were those that did not draw attention to themselves. They went largely unnoticed because in her capable hands, her household ran smoothly, and her husband and children were loved, cared for, and encouraged to pursue their interests. Mary made it all look nearly effortless and usually enjoyable. Her many pursuits came to an end in Mequon, Wisconsin, where she died on June 25, 2014, at the age of 90. She retained a fondness for the small town life of her childhood in Whitewater, Wisconsin, where she developed cosmopolitan interests in classical music, ballet, art, and the world in which she would eventually travel widely. She graduated in 1943 from the
University of Wisconsin
-Madison, where she later received a M.S. in Home Economics. In 1947, she married Harry Franke, her devoted husband for 65 years, and partner in many of her favorite activities - bridge, dancing, tennis, travel, and debating the issues of the day. They lived in Madison and then in the Milwaukee area until his death in 2012. Mary's extensive scrapbooks celebrate at least 47 Rotary trips she made with Harry throughout the United States and the world. Although she came to realize that if born a generation later, she would have used her artistic and design skills to achieve professional success as an architect, she embraced without regret her role as homemaker. She found a satisfying creative and intellectual life through rich expression in all of the domestic arts, as well as with her book club friends who have been meeting monthly for six decades. Her fine soprano was appreciated in church choirs throughout her life, and she served as a Girl Scout leader in Whitefish Bay and on the board of directors of the former Protestant Home for the Aged (now Eastcastle). Through the Mary and Harry Franke Idea Fund, she and her husband helped support many local non-profit organizations and college scholarships. Mary will be missed by her three surviving children: Jay (Pamela Baker), of Chicago, Illinois; John (Gabrielle Gahn) Franke, of Shorewood, Wisconsin; and Mary Ann, of Estes Park, Colorado. Her youngest son, Mark, who died in 2011, was spared the loss of his beloved mother. Mary is survived by her brother, Tom Winkleman, of Charleston, South Carolina, by her six grandchildren, Baker (Dana Currier), Alexandra, Jeanne, Mary Louise, Madeline and Joseph, and by her great-grandchild Benjamin. Mary's children are especially grateful to caregivers Lori Ruelle and Nancy Schelble for the loving companionship they provided both Mary and Harry during their last years. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 3, at 3:30 PM at North Shore Congregational Church in Fox Point, to be followed by a reception at the Town Club. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Urban Ecology Center (
; 1500 East Park Place, 53211), a cause that was especially important to Mary, who loved the outdoors and believed that everyone benefits from seeing plants grow, hearing birds sing, and spending some time in a canoe.
Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from June 27 to June 29, 2014
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