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Frances Maxine Koeltzow (nee Hutchinson) has been my beautiful bride for 67 years. Fran and I met 70 years ago on the Tuscola County Teachers/Caro (Michigan)High School campus. Fran was a tall, slim red head, who was mature for her age. We started dating when Fran was17 and I was 18. When I was 19, I volunteered for the U.S. Air Force during the Korean war. Shortly thereafter, I was assigned to Scott Field in Illinois. Fran came for a visit and I proposed to her during a supper cruise on the Mississippi Queen.
Fran made a beautiful young bride standing before a Justice of the Peace with a stranger for a witness. I spent my last $10 paying for the ceremony. We moved into a house where we had one bedroom to ourselves and shared the bathroom and kitchen with 2 other couples. The only things we owned were our clothes, a 1937 Chevrolet sedan and the $9 that Fran had that had to last us until payday 2 weeks later. Fran quickly got a job as a waitress to tide us over until payday. (She had experience being a waitress from paying her way through high school.)
We didn't have money for entertainment, so, in the evenings, we walked, hand in hand, usually to see a yellow Jeepster or to the Military Activity Center in Belleville. We lived very frugally that first year, which only backfired catastrophically once. We decided to not put antifreeze in our Chevrolet until the next payday. We drove up to Michigan for Christmas vacation and to pick up the remainder of Fran's clothes. During the trip, the engine block froze and cracked. We drove the car as long as it would drive. Near Frankenmuth, we bundled up in our winter clothes and walked, after dark and in the snow, to a lighted farmhouse we could see in the distance. The gracious farmers warmed us, fed us and called my Dad about our status. Dad drove the 30 miles and picked us up. My intrepid bride never uttered a word of complaint or recrimination.
During our marriage, we had 2 miscarriages but were blessed with 4 live births. Our son Ronald Paul was born in1952 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After his discharge, while he was earning his bachelor's degree, he worked at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he met our first daughter-in-law, Terri. They had 3 beautiful children, Paul David, Michael Wayne and Karen Lynn. Ron accepted a position with GE as a computer programmer, so he and Terri moved to Merritt Island, Florida where they now reside. Our son David Charles was born in 1954 in Big Springs, Texas. He graduated from Michigan Technological University and moved to Oregon where he joined the Bureau of Land Management in Eugene. There, he met our other daughter-in-law, Sharon. They had 2 beautiful daughters, Amanda Marie and Mikayla Renee. David earned his MBA and joined the Defense Contract Auditing Agency in Vancouver, Washington where they now reside. Our daughter Sally Jo was born in 1958 in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Southern Methodist University and became an elementary school teacher. While attending SMU, Sally met our first son-in-law, Fabian Sandler. They had 2 beautiful sons, Evan Micah Ryan and Jacob Aaron Kane. Fabian and Sally moved to Houston, Texas where they now reside. Our daughter Cathy Ann was born in 1961 at Bentwaters RAF Station in Suffolk, England. She graduated from El Centro Community College and became a medical laboratory technologist. She met our other son-in-law, Wesley Coffey, while working at Garland Community Hospital. Wesley passed away in 2001. Cathy still resides in Garland, Texas.
During my almost 25 year career with the Air Force and the 42 years after my retirement, we moved a total of 31 times. When we moved overseas for the first time, I was tasked with ferrying one of the squadron's planes over. This left Fran, traveling with 3 of our 4 children, to meet me there. When we returned to the States from this assignment, we were given berths on a cruise ship that was under booked, it being winter in the North Atlantic. Fran did not get to enjoy the cruise, as she was caring for our 2 sons with seasickness and our 4 month old daughter.
We also lived in Germany and the Philippines. But, most difficult on the entire family, on 3 different occasions, I was stationed in unaccompanied tours, which meant that the family was not allowed to be with me, for a year each time. For these years, Fran moved back to Michigan (Brown City, Marlette and Saginaw). During these times, my bride took over the full responsibility of keeping the household and the family running smoothly. She also took on the added responsibility of helping to care for her grandparents. She would write me letters every night to let me know what the family was doing so that I wouldn't be left out of what was happening. Then, when I came home to rejoin the family, Fran would happily welcome me to retake my former role within the family.
Fran was intelligent, gentle and courageous. She was always a lady. She was shy, but friendly. We could spend hours talking. We could spend hours comfortably silent. She was not just a housewife, she was the quintessential homemaker. She made sure that everyone that came to our house was welcomed. She was fiercely protective of every member of our family. She was very generous and put others' needs above her own, time after time. She was an incredibly hard worker and, often, did volunteer work while the kids were at school. She was, in short, the best woman I have ever known and I am very proud that I was her groom for 67 years.
The Memorial Service will be held Saturday April 20, 2019 at 3:00 pm at The Point at C.C. Young on West Lawther Drive between