Erwin Carl Franke, son of John and Ida (Schlenner) Franke, was born on a farm five miles south of Gaylord, MN on December 22,1919. On January 18,1920 he was baptized into the membership of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Gaylord, MN by Rev. Tychsen. On May 20, 1934 he was also confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran by Rev. Wm. Uhrich. Erwin graduated from the Gaylord High School as valedictorian in the spring of 1939. In the spring of 1943 he graduated from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa and on May 16, 1945 he graduated from the Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. On May 30, 1945 he was united in holy matrimony with Dorothy Irene Drinkall in the former Zion Lutheran Church of Spring Valley, MN. This union was blessed with five children: John, Joyce, Leona, Linda, and Mark. On June 10, 1945 Erwin was ordained in the Lutheran ministry in St. Paul Lutheran Church in Gaylord, MN by Rev. George Mattiae. On June 17, 1945 he was installed as pastor of the former Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Belgrade, MN. In April of 1948 he became the pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church in West Union, Iowa. After serving there for ten years, he became the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cresco, Iowa, in March 1958. On September 24, 1978 Pastor Franke was installed as pastor of Deer Creek Lutheran Church of Carpenter, Iowa. He served there until March 31, 1995 when he retired and he and Irene moved to Spring Valley, MN.
Pastor Franke had a talent for raising money. He was pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in West Union when they built a new parsonage and made plans for the new church and education unit. While in Cresco a new parsonage and education unit were built. In Carpenter a new elevator/lift addition was built onto the church. The thing Pastor Franke enjoyed most was preaching. On November 20, 1966 the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Cresco started broadcasting their Sunday morning service over KFIL radio of Preston, MN. After doing this for 12 years, he moved to Carpenter and continued to broadcast for 16 years over radio stations in Austin, MN and Mason City, Iowa. Pastor Franke’s hobby was farming. Some called him the “preacher-farmer”. In this way he paid for their farm northeast of Spring Valley and also put all of their five children through college, or gave them the equivalent in cash.
Erwin was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ida Franke; his wife, Irene; brothers, Raymond and William; sisters, Viola and Elmira, and daughter, Leona Keune.
Those who mourn his passing are his children: John Franke (Debbie) of Raleigh, NC; Joyce Hansel (Al) of Claremont, MN; Linda Bengfort (Scott) of Davenport, IA, Mark Franke (Cioney) of Austin, TX.
Erwin Franke is survived by his children and grandchildren: Son, John (Debbie) Franke of Raleigh, NC. John and Debbie’s daughter, Dorothy Prince, her son, Drake, her husband, Chris, and children, and their son, Deven. John and Debbie’s daughter, Joann Cook, her husband, Mark, and their son, Jacob. Daughter, Joyce (Al) Hansel of Claremont, MN. Joyce’s daughter, Julie Galaty, and her sons, Akea and Tykai. Joyce’s daughter, Jill (Mike) Pooler and their children, Emma, Alex, Cameron and Raylan. Al’s son, Peter Hansel’s wife, Patt; Al’s daughter, LeAnne (Brad) Krause and their children, Dan, Sarah, Rachel; Al’s daughter, Laurel Hansel, and her son, Alex, and Laurel’s friend, Jason. Daughter, Leona Keune’s son, Todd Keune of Cresco, Iowa, Todd’s daughter, Ashley (John) Grant and their sons, Riley and Palmer, and Todd’s son, Bellamy. Daughter, Linda (Scott) Bengfort of Davenport, Iowa. Linda and Scott’s daughter, Allison, and their son, Adam. Son, Mark (Cioney) Franke of Austin, Texas, and Mark’s daughter, Ashley. Cioney’s children, Lloyd, Julian, Ken, and granddaughter, Samantha.
Funeral services for Pastor Erwin Franke will be held Thursday, September 27, 2018, at 11:00 AM, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Spring Valley, with Pastor Mark Van House officiating. Visitation will be held Wednesday, September 26, from 5:00 - 7:00 PM, at the Hindt Funeral Home, Spring Valley, and one hour prior to the service at the church.
Memorials may be given on behalf of Pastor Erwin Franke to ELCA World Hunger and send to: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America P.O. Box 1809 Merrifield, VA 22116-8009 or Erwin and Irene Franke Scholarship at Wartburg Theological Seminary attn: Development Office 333 Wartburg Place Dubuque, IA 52003.