May 15th 2010
Marsha L. Franke, age 61, passed away on Saturday evening, May 15, 2010 at Oaklawn Hospital in the loving care of her family. Marsha was born on December 2, 1948 in Evanston, Illinois to W. Bruce and Irene Orwilda (Sissell) Walls. She grew up in Evanston and graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1966. After graduating, Marsha attended Indiana State University where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Education in 1971. Marsha started her family with former husband, G. Edward Haring in Elgin, Illinois where they raised their 3 children. While in Elgin, Marsha began her 27-year career as a K-12 public educator. She was also a dedicated community activist who volunteered at several community organizations such as The Crisis Center, Indo-Chinese Refugee Services and the YWCA as an English as a Second Language teacher and childbirth educator. Marsha and her family moved to Battle Creek in 1987 where she began working for the Battle Creek Public School System. She taught at Ann J. Kellogg Elementary School. In 1990, she received her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University and soon after became principal at Wilson Elementary School and then Level Park Elementary School. In 2000, Marsha became a part of the Marshall community when she began working as principal of Gordon Elementary School. She was later promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and served Marshall Public Schools in that position until her retirement in 2004. It was in Marshall where Marsha met and then married her husband, Tom Franke, on June 14, 2004. The couple has enjoyed traveling together and spending time with family and friends. Some of their favorite adventures included their travels to England, Italy, Germany and the Florida Keys, but they always loved coming home to Marshall. Marsha was well known and appreciated in the community for her active volunteerism. She was a founder of the "Success Fund" to benefit Marshall Public Schools as well as the Women's Philanthropic Circle of Marshall to help benefit local community needs. Marsha has also served on numerous not-for-profit boards in the Marshall and Battle Creek areas including Kids N Stuff, the Music Center of South Central Michigan, Junior Achievement, the National Center for the Healing of Racism and Marshall's Diversity Roundtable. In addition, Marsha helped fundraising efforts for many worthwhile community projects and not-for-profit organizations such as The Joyce and Lucy Franke Center for the Arts, Kids' Kingdom, Lifespan's Hospice Home, United Way of Marshall and The Fountain Clinic. Marsha recently established the Marsha and Tom Franke Professional Development Endowment Fund at the Marshall Community Foundation benefiting Marshall Public Schools. Marsha was recently recognized for her active involvement in the community when she received a "George Award" from the Battle Creek Enquirer. The Marshall Exchange Club also recognized Marsha by presenting her a "Book of Golden Deeds Award." In addition, she received the Citizen Award for Distinguished Service to Youth from the Calhoun Area School Board Members Association. Marsha is survived by her husband Tom Franke, daughters Chelsea and Erin Haring, son Drew Haring, grandson Brodi Haring, sister Cathy A. Oei-Milette and a niece and nephew. She is also survived by five step-children, their families as well as extended family and friends. Friends may visit Craig K. Kempf Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 19th where family will be present to greet friends and share memories from 3:00 to 5:00 and 7:00 to 9:00. A Memorial Service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall on Thursday, May 20th at 1:00 with Reverend Seth Weeldreyer officiating. In lieu of flowers, please honor Marsha's life with a memorial donation to the Marshall Community Foundation for the Success Fund or the Fountain Clinic or the Franke Center for the Performing Arts. Assistance with memorials is available at the Kempf Funeral Home.