Life Story / Obituary
Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lake
From the hill
From the sky
All is well
God is nigh.
Colonel Leonard Reach Franseen was born on March 8th 1932, and died peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loved ones, on Sunday November 27th, 2022, after a long and heroic struggle with Parkinson’s disease. His grieving family includes his wife of 65 years, Karen, and his three daughters, Laura, Cindy, and Lisa Franseen, Laura’s husband Norman Kjome, Cindy’s husband John Kristiansen, their son Jacob and his wife Amalie and 11-month old Theodin, and Len’s brother Richard Franseen.
Whether “Dear Ol’ Dad”, “Tex”, or “Len”, he was felt by many as a pillar of gentle strength. A man of great integrity, humble, a leader by example, everyone noticed his warm smile and refreshing sense of humor. Len’s social graces put almost anyone at ease and he always held his judgments to himself. He didn’t speak a lot but, when he did, it was always worth listening to.
Born in NYC and growing up in New Orleans, Len was a military man at heart, serving 30 years in the Transportation Corp with the Regular Army. With a BA from Tulane University, he joined ranks in 1953. His favorite stories were of parachuting, as well as piloting helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Tours of duty included the Korean and Vietnam wars, followed by a MBA from Syracuse University to become a comptroller. He spent five years at the Pentagon in D.C. and finished at the Tank & Automotive Command in Warren, MI. Len went on to work ten years at Rockwell International before joyously retiring in Northern Michigan where he and Karen would live together for 32 years, exploring the U.S. and Canada in their motor home and travelling much of the world.
The depth of his love for Northern Michigan, its lakes and forests, was boundless. Len and his family enjoyed biking, canoeing, camping, and cross-country skiing throughout his life. Early in his retirement, Len served 8 years as treasurer for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and was president of the Three Lakes Association. Also on the board of Grass River Natural Area for several years, he eventually chaired their capital campaign to build the nature center now enjoyed by many. Alongside giving back to the places he loved, he continued his military involvement in the Bellaire American Legion Post.
A memorial to honor Len’s life will take place at their home next summer. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his memory to either GrassRiver.org or GTRLC.org. Donate under “Make a Memorial Gift.” The colonel would also want you to raise a glass of scotch in celebration of his life; we add “his life well lived.
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