Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Jose Franco

July 21, 1931 - July 5, 2020
Mattawan, MI



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.

St. John Bosco Catholic Parish
23830 Front Avenue
Mattawan, MI 49071
Web Site

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With a generous heart and unwavering integrity, José Franco lived a life rich in family and faith. Quiet and hardworking, José was never one to demand the spotlight. With a humble sureness of himself and tremendous pride in those he loved, José greeted each day as a gift and every person as a friend. José's honesty proved legendary, and his commitment to the good care of others was unquestionable. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and community member, José was revered by many and will long be remembered by those who were blessed to know him.

Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1931 beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With an innate drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, people all around the world continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Tenamaxtlán, Jalisco, Mexico as Zenón and Maria (Gonzales) Franco welcomed their son, José, into their family on July 21.

Growing up on a small family farm, José's childhood centered on faith and family. Along with his siblings, Matilde, Jesús, Angel and Raul, José learned the value of hard work from a very young age. While his father farmed, his mother tended the house and took care of the children. He had a natural love of animals and was especially fond of horses. As a boy, he loved corralling wild horses this was often done in bare feet. As money was scarce for the family, José worked not only on his family's farm but later milked cows at a neighboring dairy farm. For four years, José walked several miles each day to attend school. Despite being exceptionally smart and completing six grades of schooling in just four years, circumstances required him to leave school after the 6th grade. When not tending the farm, José enjoyed playing soccer with the other kids around town.

In 1957, in search of a better life, José moved to America. After living in California for a short time, he moved to Northern Indiana for better-paying jobs. In 1959, José was blessed to meet the love of his life, Lucia Sanchez. Though they grew up near one another in Mexico, they had never met before moving to the United States. For their first date, José and Lucia went to a small restaurant in East Chicago, where they shared hard shell tacos.

After dating for a while, the happy couple married on October 11, 1961, in Lucia's hometown of Atengo, Jalisco, Mexico. José and Lucia returned to the Midwest first living in a small apartment in East Chicago and later settled on a small farm in Dyer, Indiana. José worked for Simmons Mattress and later, Inland Steel, in addition to tending the farm where they kept chickens, livestock as well as boarded horses. In time, the family grew to welcome four treasured children. Magdalena, Marta, Lorenzo and Lourdes were the centers of José's world, and he made every effort to afford them childhoods free of the sacrifices and hardships he had endured. The farm proved a perfect place to raise his family as it allowed him to teach his children the value of hard, physical labor and share his love of horses. José also afforded his children excellent educations at the local Catholic schools, ensuring their faiths and future possibilities. Another way he supported his children was by allowing them to earn what they wanted in life.

In 1980, the Franco family moved to Michigan to join Lucia's sisters in the expansion and daily operation of Mi Ranchito Restaurants. The move to the small community of Mattawan was a shock for his children. However, despite no longer living on a farm, they had a few acres to call their own. Eventually, they settled in and fondly called their new place "home". José was a strict parent who held his children to the same high expectations he held for himself. He took his family to church every Sunday, and many of their traditions centered on their faith, for José wanted his children to be respectful and God-fearing. José loved his 1967 Chevy truck. He made sure his children knew how to drive at an early age including knowing how to drive a stick shift.

José possessed an unwavering commitment to excellence this inspired him to be an early riser. With great care and diligence, he went to work daily to ensure everything was done correctly (his way). For all who came to know him, it was instantly clear, he never needed to make promises for his word was his word.

As his children grew into adults and began families of their own, José joyfully welcomed becoming a grandparent. He relished his role and treasured every moment he spent with his grandchildren. Though quiet in nature, his quick wit made for many fun memories. He affectionately gave each of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren nicknames seldom calling them by their given name.

Without a doubt, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of José's steadfast presence. May we find comfort in our cherished memories of the fine man we were privileged to know. May we also be comforted by the knowing we carry the best of his legacy forward in our own lives, and each time we share these gifts, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.

José Franco, died in his home on Sunday, July 5, 2020 surrounded by his family. Members of his family include his wife Lucia, 4 children: Magdalena Franco (James), Marta Franco-Young (Scot), Lorenzo Franco, Lourdes Franco-Puzevic (Andy), 11 grandchildren: Lucanus (Dawn) Pelto, Monica Pelto, Joseph Maas (Tiffany Kline), Levi (Alexis) Franco, Jarred Puzevic, Dominic Puzevic, Diego Franco, Samuel Puzevic, Mateo Franco, and Gabriela Puzevic and 6 great-grandchildren: Ryder and Raelyn Pelto, Asher and Oakleigh Franco, Josie Ana Maas and Avery Kline. He was preceded in death by his granddaughter Liliana Franco-Ramos and a sister, Magdalena.

Cremation has taken place and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. John Bosco Catholic Parish. A public celebration of life will be held at a later date. Please visit José’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guest book. Memorial contributions may be made to St. John Bosco Catholic Church or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.