Details for Mary Elizabeth Freeman Franks

December 27, 1922 - February 8, 2018

Baytown, TX -- Mary Elizabeth Freeman Franks passed away peacefully February 8, 2018 in Baytown, TX following a short illness. Mary was born in Gering Nebraska, December 27, 1922 to parents Charles W. Freeman and Meryl A. Quinton Bartles Freeman. She was a child of Western Nebraska; growing up in the shadow of Chimney Rock, the Scottsbluff National Monument and the Melbeta United Methodist Church (UMC). She married Charles “Charlie” Franks June, 1941, and became a dairyman’s bride. In the mid 1940s, the couple moved to Wisconsin, where they raised four children. Mary loved to cook large meals for her family and the hired hands who helped attend to the farm in Clinton. The family relocated to Rockton, IL, in 1963. While there, Mary had many jobs; she cleaned the post office building every Saturday, she became a school cook for Shirland and Stephen Mack Grade Schools. She was also a cook at Floberg’s Childrens Home, prior to moving to Beloit, WI, in 1972. Mary retired from a position as a machine operator with Durst/Regal Beloit Corp. in the early 1980s. Following her divorce, Mary moved to Baytown, TX, in 1991, to care for her brother. After his passing, Texas became her home.

Throughout Mary’s life she put her faith in action. As a member of the Women’s Group of the Clinton UMC in 1962, she helped to strip and refinish the pews in the church. In Rockton and Beloit, she sang in choirs, helped at food pantries, and as a member of United Methodist Women Mary participated in the Prayer Circle. She became a UMC Lay Speaker and Stephens Minister. Mary was a Toastmaster, and a member of the VFW Women’s Auxiliary. Mary was the most honored to receive the 1983 Human Rights Award from the World Affairs Center at Beloit College. Mary continued to attend church weekly, saying she felt that if she could get there at 95 years of age that others would have “no reason” for staying home.

Mary is survived by her family: son, Merle Franks of Janesville, and daughter, Alice Franks-Gray (Lynne) of Orfordville/Brodhead; and daughter-in-law, Janet Franks of Brodhead. She enjoyed hearing stories of her grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and 3½ great, great grandchildren. She held a special place in her heart for the children of her siblings; nieces and nephews located throughout the country. Mary is preceded in death by her husband; and their two sons, H. Leroy and Charles W.; her parents; her sister, Alice Mathews; and two brothers, Charles Glenn and Leroy E.; daughter-in-law, Sandy (Stockman) Franks; and niece, Joyce Oppenheimer; in addition to many special friends throughout the years, especially Newt Licary.

Mary elected to continue her legacy of giving by donating her body to science. Friends are invited to a celebration of Mary’s life with a brief reception to follow at Roxbury Church of Christ, 2103 Roxbury Road, Janesville, Wisconsin 53545 at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17th. Memorials may be made in Mary’s name to the Pilot Clubs of Baytown, P.O. Box 1765, Baytown, TX 77522

Her family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the many people in Baytown, TX who adopted Mary; especially those of her church family and her neighbors. At the end of her life, the Med-Surgical care team at San Jacinto Methodist and Pastor Raegan Seaton provided admirable, compassionate care to Mary and support to her loved ones.

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