OBITUARY: Mary Ann Franz

Our beloved Mary Ann Franz went to be with her Lord on Aug. 26, 2019, at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was blessed with a wonderful full life for which we are grateful.

Mary Ann was born on Aug. 5, 1940, in Newton. At that time, her father, Ted E. Claassen, was working with MCC in London to save children from World War II bombing, while her mother Helen Claassen raised three other children at home in Newton.  On Aug. 5, Helen’s doctor picked her up and took her to Bethel Deaconess Hospital for Mary’s birth. What a day that was!

Mary Ann attended school at McKinley Elementary and Newton High School, graduating in the class of 1958. She then attended Bethel College in North Newton for one year before transferring to Wheaton College in Illinois. Determining that she would major in deaf education, she finished her degree at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, graduating in 1963. The day after graduation, she married the love of her life, Gary Dean Franz, and they settled on his family farm near Turpin, Okla. Mary spent her early years of marriage teaching many deaf children in Liberal and learning to become a farm wife. The Et Cetera Shop, an MCC thrift shop in Liberal, which she was instrumental in starting, was a great joy to Mary. She also was very active in the Turpin (Okla.) Mennonite Church and later Whitestone Mennonite Church of Hesston, mentoring many children and young adults. Her faith in God and her love of Jesus touched every aspect of her life and those around her. She was a wonderful and caring mother to two daughters and four grandchildren, and a loving wife. She and Gary were able to go on many travel adventures together, including a mission trip to Africa, and in later years many wonderful trips together with their daughters’ families. Gary and Mary were happy to celebrate their 56th year of marriage this past June. Mary also was blessed by numerous friendships throughout her lifetime.

Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents and by an older sister Naomi McElroy.

Surviving in addition to her husband, Gary, are their two daughters, Amy (and Matt) Schmidt of Newton, and Audrey (and Brent) Blacklock of Kansas City, Mo.; grandchildren Abby Schmidt, Luke Schmidt, Grace Blacklock and Hannah Blacklock. Mary also is survived by her two older brothers, David (and Delores) Claassen of Denver and Charles Claassen of Liberty, Mo., in addition to many wonderful nieces, nephews and cousins.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at Broadway Colonial Funeral Home with family present from 4 to 6 p.m.

A service of celebration of Mary Ann’s life will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston. Private family internment will be at Greenwood Cemetery in Newton.

Those who wish to remember Mary Ann in a special way may give gifts to MCC (Mennonite Central Committee). MCC is a worldwide ministry to share God’s love and compassion by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. Contributions may be sent to Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton, KS 67114.

Arrangements are by Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, Newton.

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