A memorial service for Willie Franke, 87, of Leeds, formerly of Texas, will be held at a later date in San Antonio, Texas. He died April 23, 2011 at the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby.
Willie B. Franke was born June 10, 1923 at Kendalia, Texas to Ben John and Ella (Nickels) Franke. He was reared and educated in Texas and spent most of his life there. After high school, he entered the US Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas on August 10, 1944 and served during World War II. His duty assignment was with the 405th Infantry, 175th Engineer Company E as a construction foreman in Naples, Italy. He worked in mine warfare, demolition and bailey bridging. He was honorably discharged on November 12, 1946 with the rank of Corporal. He returned to Texas. He married Marie M. Wilkerson on March 24, 1958. They established their home in San Antonio and he worked for the Lone Star Brewing Company and farmed until retiring. She died May 8, 2003. In October of 2010, he moved to North Dakota to be closer to his daughter and family.
He loved animals, rodeos, TV wrestling and old Western movies.
Survivors include his children, Donald (Benny) Franke, Thomas Franke, Kenneth (Cathy) Franke, Ben (Lisa) Franke, Mary Lou Dibble of Leeds, Rebecca Sittre and Linda Sittre; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a sister, Ada Cooley; and a brother, Alvin Franke.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; a daughter, Dee Hahn; a granddaughter, Tracey Crum, two sisters, Roma Brandt and Rose Stahl; and a brother, Herman Franke.
Friends may sign the online book at www.gilbertsonfuneralhome.com.