Life Story Service
Saturday, January 21, 2023
4:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, drinks and stories will follow in the Life Story Center.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Portage Zhang Senior Center
203 East Centre Avenue
Portage, MI 49002
Life Story / Obituary
With a big vivacious spirit, Frances "Fran" Junker lived a life rich in family and friends. Fran consciously chose to see life as an adventure, embracing every moment as a gift and every person as a friend. She was a deep and intelligent person, who faced challenges with confidence, celebrated joys fully, and never hesitated to share her strong opinions. She was a hard worker who was unwavering in her support for her loved ones. Fran cheered on their endeavors and encouraged them at every turn, and always provided a safe place to simply be. Feisty, fun, and occasionally ornery, Fran was a devoted mother, grandmother, and friend. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Fran will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1935 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While reeling in the heartache of Black Sunday, our nation's 20.1% unemployment rate, and the gathering war clouds as Germany passed the Nuremberg laws, Americans found much hope in Amelia Earhart's' first solo Pacific flight, the inventions of parking meters, fluorescent tubes for light, and the game of Monopoly, as well as the first Orange Bowl, first Pacific Airmail delivery, and the first technicolor film: Mickey Mouse. In Delmont, South Dakota, Mathias and Mary Gertrude (Hand) Loos held much hope for the future as they celebrated the birth of their third child and daughter, Frances Joan, on April 13.
From the start, Fran was a very outgoing girl, and her father affectionately called her his Sunshine. As the third of the seven Loos kids, Fran grew up in a home filled with activity and rooted in faith. Her parents were farmers who also owned Math's Market, the local grocery store in the very small town of Delmont. Her grandma, Lenna G., owned the one furniture store and was the town undertaker.
Fran grew up with strong Catholic traditions, attending St. Theresa’s Church which was just across the road from the family's farmhouse. The family held solidly to Catholic practices: fasting during lent, and heartily celebrating the Saints Days and holidays. Christmas was a special time with Christmas Eve and the annual oyster stew always at Grandma and Grandpa Loos’s, and Christmas Day always at Grandma and Grandpa Hand’s.
In summer, Fran enjoyed being outdoors with siblings, and cousins who came to the farm for the season. They spent their time “barefoot and barely clothed” as brother Paul recounts. Days were filled with softball (using cow pies as bases), trying to smoke dried grasses (great stories there) and the summer round of Catechism provided by traveling nuns at their church.
Fran attended the local public schools and graduated, as did her siblings, from Delmont High School. While in high school, she joined all the clubs she could. She was a cheerleader and majorette, played French horn for four years, and was the fast-pitch pitcher for the girls’ softball team. She later thoroughly enjoyed taking her family back to Delmont for several high school reunions, and family reunions. The stories that came out at these gatherings enchanted the many members of the next generation.
While working as a waitress at Sylvan Lake Lodge in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Fran met her future husband, the dashing Louis J. “Louie” Junker. Louie was from Bayonne, New Jersey, and was a summer bellhop for the lodge en route to further university studies. The couple began dating and, by the end of that summer, were setting their sights on building a future together. They married on December 27, 1954, at St. Theresa’s in Delmont. As Louie was working on his PhD at Madison, Wisconsin, the newlyweds had no honeymoon and settled into marriage near the university.
Fran and Louie were blessed to start a family right away. In time, they welcomed three children into their lives, and Nanette, Louis H., and James quickly became the centers of Fran's world. While Louie continued his academic pursuits and career, at her husband's insistence, Fran devoted herself to raising their children and managing the home. For a time, they lived near Elmira College in New York where their two sons were born. They eventually made their forever home in Kalamazoo, where Louie was an Economics professor for 20 years at Western Michigan University in between stints of traveling the world.
A terrific cook and baker, Fran could make anything, often creating fabulous meals from very little and on a shoestring budget. She took up knitting and created complicated sweaters and other garments eventually inspiring her first granddaughter Anni to later become a fabric arts expert. While Louie was the visionary, it was Fran's gifts for the practical that made it possible for the family to travel and live abroad with a great sense of adventure. The family lived in India, Guatemala, The Netherlands, and the Island of Mauritius and traveled throughout Europe. Regardless of where they were, in the US or abroad, she took her kids to see everything, even making them special travel boxes. When landed, she ensured a sense of home with her wonderful cooking and memorable apple crisp and special three-part dinner rolls. She was also a great typist and had typed up Louie's thesis.
In the late 70s, once the kids were in college full time and the family was settled from all the traveling, Fran began working outside the home. She found her calling as a library clerk at the Oshtemo Branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library. She loved her work and passionately served the community for 33 years. Fran possessed a curiosity and creativity that led to much fun. She was a member and past president of the Kalamazoo Garden Club, a great golfer, and enjoyed sewing and crafting. She also spent her time reading, bowling, canning, making jams and jellies and hosting Tupperware parties.
Sadly, at the age of 54, a fatal heart attack cut Louie's life short in September of 1981. With signature determination and perseverance, Fran faced life in his absence with courage. She sold the house, bought a condo, and oriented her outlook to exploring new pastimes and living life to the fullest that she could. This included constant golfing, bowling, knitting, dancing, shooting pool, traveling again, and being an enthusiastic cheerleader for her now far-flung family. A well-known card shark, she played a fierce game of Euchre. With a Bud Light in her hand, she never hesitated to yell at her fellow players.
Whether welcoming guests to her candle-lit home, taking golf tips to Manistee, crashing a wedding, winning at cards, fleecing young people at pool, or visiting far-off places like China and Greece, Fran celebrated every moment and relished her relationships. A known power walker and fun-seeker, her daughter Nanette often teased her that she moved faster than her hairpins. The only thing that slowed her down as she got older were numerous knee surgeries.
Without a doubt, Fran's granddaughters, Anni, Olivia, Ella, Bridget and great-granddaughter, Sophia, were her heart's delight. She adored her grandchildren and was a patient, generous grandmother. She took life as it came, was very practical, and encouraged everyone to "relax." Her home was always a "fun mess," where her grandkids were free to indulge in a lot of play, often initiated by Fran's crazy dramatics. Sharp and scattered in an entertaining and loving way, Fran was best friends with them.
A powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life, Fran lived life with zest and joy. Even in the face of recent heart and health complications, she courageously and stalwartly accepted her next adventure after a brief stay at Bronson Hospital and in the good company of her three children. Though life feels less certain in the absence of Fran's steadfast presence, we find comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In every moment that we choose courage over fear, dance with abandon, say "yes" to adventure and learning, share a great book, tend our gardens, or gather for a spirited game of cards, we celebrate the many ways Fran gifted our lives. In doing so, we keep her indomitable spirit alive, inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Frances "Fran" Junker, age 87, died peacefully on January 10, 2023, in Kalamazoo. Fran was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Louis J. Junker of Western Michigan University's Economics Department, in 1981 and by 2 siblings: Robert Loos and Corinne Cirone, and brother-in-law, Richard Cirone. Members of her family include 3 children: Nanette (Michael) Renzi, Louis H. Junker (Patricia Keenan), and James M. Junker; 4 granddaughters: Anni (Brandon) Pilger and their daughter, Sophia Heldt; Olivia C. Renzi, Ella M. Junker, and Bridget A. Junker; siblings: Paul (Linda) Loos, Mary (Victor) Albertazzi, Charlie (Kay) Loos, Patrick (Bonnie) Loos and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. Please join us for a Life Story Service on Saturday (JAN 21) 4PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900, followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Visit Fran's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Portage Zhang Senior Center, a well-favored place to be involved with.
**Be sure to request a bereavement rate.
Hampton Inn & Suites Kalamazoo-Oshtemo
5059 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009•(269) 372-1010
Delta Hotels by Marriott Kalamazoo Conference Center
2747 S 11th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009•(269) 375-6000
Holiday Inn & Suites Kalamazoo West, an IHG Hotel
1247 Westgate Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49009•(269) 888-4800
Best Western Plus Kalamazoo Suites
2575 S 11th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009•(269) 350-5522
Baymont by Wyndham Kalamazoo
2203 S 11th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009•(269) 372-7999