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Ruth M Franzen

January 7, 1924 April 2, 2020
Ruth M Franzen
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Obituary for Ruth M Franzen

Ruth Margaret Franzen, age 96, of Decorah, Iowa, died April 2, 2020, at the Patty Elwood Center in Cresco, with her loving family at her side. She was born January 7, 1924, in Waucoma, Iowa, to Dr. Clarence N. Freligh and Lois (Husband) Freligh, aka Mabel Irene Rosser. Ruth’s father was a physician, and, being an inquisitive child, Ruth would often accompany him on house calls, in a horse and buggy at first, then his Ford Model T and Model A, and later a Buick Touring Car. The sole child of her parents, Ruth was very fond of family pets, especially dogs, and the household usually contained a very special canine friend, at least while she was growing up. Ruth started first grade at the Waucoma schools when she was four and graduated from high school in 1940. She spent the next year at home before enrolling at the University of Iowa, where she played drums in the marching band and had plans to become either a doctor or a journalist. After college, Ruth began working at Rath Packing Company in Waterloo as a laboratory chemist. In 1952 she married John A. “Jack” Franzen, who was from the St. Lucas area, where he farmed until retirement and also worked as an insurance agent for nearly thirty years. Ruth and Jack raised five children on their Fayette County farm near the banks of the Turkey River, and she also volunteered for their St. Luke Catholic Church and school committees. In 1990 Ruth and Jack made their home in Decorah, where Ruth continued her volunteer activities for local schools, health facilities, and social services, receiving a Governor’s Award in recognition of her service to the community. Jack died in February 1992 and, in 2001, Ruth married Vincent Lensing of Decorah. Vince died in August 2019. Ruth is survived by three sons and a daughter from her marriage to Jack: John C. Franzen, Steve (Marylynn) Franzen, Jim (Roxane) Franzen, and Sue (Jack) Drilling; eight grandchildren; thirteen great-grandchildren; four sisters-in-law; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and friends. She was preceded in death by her beloved son and daughter-in-law, Rick Franzen and Jacolyn Hoyt Franzen, and their unborn child, in 1988, and many sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and extended family members. In furtherance of her long-held respect for science, medical education, and research, Ruth has donated her remains to Mayo Clinic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no public funeral service. A private celebration of Ruth’s life will be held at a later date.

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