Thomas Frederick Franke, 92, a longtime Marshall resident and community supporter, died peacefully on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in his beloved Oak Hill home.
Tom was born on December 23, 1929 to Frederick Walter and Ella Elizabeth (Brehm) Franke in Highland Park, Michigan.
He graduated from Detroit MacKenzie High School in 1946 at age 16. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in 1950 with his BA in Economics and in 1951 he graduated from the University of Michigan MBA program in Industrial Management.
Tom served in the United States Army during the Korean War from 1951 until 1953 as a Military Police Officer achieving the rank of 1 st Lieutenant. He was stationed at both Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and Ft. Custer in Battle Creek.
He was fortunate enough to have been married to three lovely women. Sadly, all preceded him in death. He and his first wife, Joyce Martha Lamberg, were married in 1952 and had four children. She passed away in 1981. His second wife, Lucy Rogers, passed away in 2002 and his third wife, Marsha Haring, in 2010.
He will be deeply missed and is survived by his children, Carol Franke (Park) Owens of N. Barrington, Illinois, Barbara Franke (Richard) Newman of N. Barrington, Illinois, James (Jennifer) Franke of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Patty Franke (Kelly) Williams of Marshall, Michigan; Carlos Galarce of Iowa, daughter-in-law Lee Galarce of Lake Zurich, Illinois; his stepchildren, Jessica (Torjus) Lundevall of Highland Park, Illinois, Curt (Lauren) Kaplan of Los Angeles, California, Hilary (Mark) Loretta of Rancho Santa Fe, California; Chelsea (Anthony) Haring-Cozzi of Fishers, Indiana, and Erin (Shannon) Haring-Switzer of Carmel, Indiana; his twenty grandchildren, Kate Belew, Grace Belew, Aidan Belew, Hannah (Stanton) Newman McConnell, Samuel Newman, Ryan Franke, William Franke, Allison Franke, Sarah (Kyle) Owens Firlik, Christopher Owens, Alexander Galarce, Max Galarce, Kaja (Fred) Rumney, Tellef Lundevall, Iselin Lundevall (Brandon) Issa, Hallvard Lundevall, Frankie Loretta, Lucy Loretta, Oliver Kaplan, Leo Kaplan and six great grandchildren.
Tom was also preceded in death by his parents, and his stepson, Drew Haring.
From 1955 to 1992, he was a general contractor and real estate developer, building single-family and multi-family homes, and commercial buildings in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas.
In 1979 Tom and Joyce would say they made one of the best decisions of their lives by moving their family to Marshall, Michigan. During his time in Marshall, he touched the lives of many in positive ways and profoundly affected nearly every aspect of this community’s daily life. Tom’s love and support for Marshall has been broad and inclusive. He provided support to youth and educators and their educational and cultural pursuits, as well as to community and civic betterment and expansion. Tom was a builder of all things, buildings, homes, programs, families. He played a significant role in the creation of Marshall’s premier assisted living facility.
While he loved all of his civic roles, the one he took most pride in was the creation of The Joyce and Lucy Franke Center for the Arts. In 1999 Tom spearheaded the preservation of the then Marshall Civic Center building. With dedication and passion for the cause, he pulled together a supporting team, rallied the community, and purchased and renovated the building. After its official dedication in 2004, Tom’s involvement did not stop. He maintained an intense day-to-day interest in the success of the Center, leading the Board of Directors to continually upgrade and maintain the beautiful and historic facility. It was his passion and desire to give back to the community he loved.
He worked hard to support many local non-profit organizations and worthy causes as a board member, leader, fundraiser and donor. He was a charter member of the international Brass Band of Battle Creek, and served on many local non-profit boards, such as The Franke Center for the Arts, the Marshall Community Foundation, the Fountain Clinic, Burnham Brook, and the Marshall Historical Society. He was a quietly a significant donor to Oaklawn Hospital, the Fountain Clinic and Marshall Public Schools.
Tom’s impact on the community’s youth was far reaching. He established scholarship funds with the Marshall Community Foundation providing educational and enrichment programs for both youth and educators. He funded a Gold Key Scholarship fund at KCC which covers tuition for a talented Marshall graduate.
Tom frequently opened his home for public fundraising events for the Fountain Clinic and the Music Center of South Central Michigan. He was also a committed volunteer homeowner on the annual Historic Home Tour and Garden Tour. His home Oak Hill was certainly a Home Tour favorite! He loved nothing more than being the host and greeting tour attendees on Oak Hill’s grounds to tell them stories and the detailed history of his beautiful historic home.
Tom loved to travel. He and his family traveled extensively throughout the world, creating lifelong friendships along the way. Some of their favorite adventures included travels to Norway, Germany, Italy and the Florida Keys. He loved England so much, he became a co-owner of a group of hotels known as Abacus Hotels. He annually donated a week’s stay at these hotels to both the Oaklawn Hospital and Fountain Clinic auctions. He wanted to share with others his passion for travel and exploration. Tom loved spending time with family and friends. He loved history, oysters, lobster, and to read, BUT MOST OF ALL, he loved family traditions and celebrations. The notorious parties in the Nancy Boyer Pub will be fondly remembered by all.
He was recognized with many awards and honors for his civic involvement. Some of the awards that he was most proud of were the Starr’s Stand Tall Award, Marshall Public Schools’ Golden Apple, the George Award, the “Guvvy” award, the WD Boyce Leadership Award, the BBBC Legacy Society Award, and cherished being selected as the 2019 Marshall Christmas Parade Grand Marshal.
Tom’s graciousness, generous spirit and genuine love for life is, and will continue to be, an inspiration to all. Marshall is incredibly richer because of his civic and cultural leadership, involvement and passion. His impact on Marshall will be felt forever.
Tom Franke believed if it should be done, it can be done!
Visitation for Tom will take place on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 from 3:00 until 7:00 pm at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services 723 US Hwy 27 N Marshall, Michigan 49068. Funeral services to celebrate Tom’s life will take place on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at 3:00 pm at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The Fountain Clinic 111 N. Jefferson St. #1 Marshall, Michigan 49068 or The Franke Center for the Arts 214 E. Mansion St. Marshall, Michigan 49068.
Please visit https://www.kempffuneralhome.com to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.