February 29, 1928 – July 26, 2020
Robert Paul Franke, 92, a gentleman for the ages, passed away on Sunday, July 26, 2020. For several years, he battled multiple health problems, fighting courageously and stoically every day.
Bob, of Boca Raton, FL, a former Niagara Falls resident, was a prince of a man, who never wavered from his commitment to fairness, decency and faith in God. Being humble, thoughtful and industrious were the hallmarks of his life.
He succeeded terrifically in the grand obstacle course of fatherhood. To instill in his seven children discipline, accountability and good study habits, and to cover up his glaring weakness for being a big kid at heart, Bob nurtured his kids by impersonating a drill sergeant.
But that feigned roll was overshadowed frequently by all the fun times he spent with his children, especially when it involved decorating for the holidays, celebrating birthdays, arts and crafts, sledding, swimming, visiting amusement parks, building backyard ice skating rinks, hiking around Niagara Falls and science projects.
Bob was an enthusiastic fan and organizer of such family adventures and activities as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church events, visiting historic sites, camping, canoeing, caring for the family’s many pets, reading books, and vacationing in New York City, Canada and Florida.
Time after time, he demonstrated uncommon grace during family crises and confounding problems, and with seven children, two income properties and lots to do-it-yourself home projects, there were plenty of them. His good nature, self-assuring ways and quiet perseverance usually led to winning results. Things just got better when Bob Franke was involved.
Bob, a proud leap year baby of 1928, was born to Paul and Helen Franke. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY’s Flatbush neighborhood. On his 17th birthday, he convinced his mother to sign his U.S. Army enlistment papers.
Following two years as an Army medic, he was accepted into the ROTC program at Syracuse University where he earned a degree in Forestry Management and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, serving in Japan and Korea.
He was part of the Army’s efforts to build the NIKE Air/Missile Defense System in Model City, NY. There he met his future wife, Florence, the pretty girl from Niagara Falls, who was the Army Corps of Engineers’ field office secretary.
The engineering firm UHaul Rich hiring Bob during the construction of the Niagara Power Project, then considered to be among the world’s largest hydroelectric plants. For 24 years, he was employed by Niagara Stone in Wheatfield, NY as the quarry’s material analyst engineer.
Bob Franke led a life well lived. For his children, it was a privilege to call him “Dad.” In the words of his loved ones, “God sent us a really good one, and now he has called him home. We are heartbroken by the loss of our beloved patriarch. He made us all better. He and his memory will live in our hearts for all our days.”
Bob is survived by his devoted wife, and inseparable companion of 64 years, Florence (Nawrocki), the loving mother of his children: R. Bryan Franke (Theresa), Michele Leissle, Alisa Sherman (Steve), Darice Destino (Louis), Sheryl Oswald (Mark), Jonathan Franke (Lori), and Laudine (Eric) Henson. Survivors include 12 grandchildren; Tara Franke, Virtoria Radigan (Eric), Jillian Leissle (Andrew), Analise Sherman, Devin Watson (Josh), Kayla Sherman, Dannette Rustico (Pietro), Louis Destino (Sarah), Joel Destino, Max Destino (Alissa), Sam Oswald, and Lauren Oswald.
Also among the survivors are great grandchildren; Jack Radigan, Elle Solomon, Leila Watson, Brady Watson, Louis M. Destino, Lilianna Destino, Benjamin Boutin, Sophia Boutin and Grant Boutin; nieces Diane Moseson (Marshall), Karen Ort, Carol Royle (Gary) and Davina Domenico (David); nephews Glen Ort, Timothy Picanso and David Romanchick (Heaven); grandnieces Alexcia and Alivia Domenico; and sister-in-law Christin Flanagan (Charles).
He was predeceased by his sisters Joyce Ort (Walter) and Phyllis Picanso, nephew Gary Picanso, in-laws John and Stella Nawrocki and brother in-law Father Xavier Nawrocki OFM, Conv. Bob’s Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Boca Raton, Florida on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. His body is interred at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery, Royal Palm Beach, FL.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bob’s memory to Companions of St. Anthony, 12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042 or Our Lady of Lourdes (Grotto Project), 22094 Lyons Road, Boca Raton, FL 33428 or Fatima Shrine, 1023 Swann Road, Youngstown, NY 14174.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
November 30, 2020
There could not have been a better neighbor then Bob and Florence were to us. Bob always had a friendly smile and wave when seeing you, and we so much enjoyed, and still miss, his giant blow up displays he would put out each holiday for the neighborhood to enjoy. RIP kind sir.
August 2, 2020
I got to meet Bob in a few different occasions. We got to have a few conversations to ourselves, I was able to talk with him about current events and even a football game he was watching. You could tell he really cared for his family and he was genuinely happy to be with them. He raised a lovely family and I'm fortunate enough to be marrying his amazing granddaughter. He played a big part in her life and I will forever be thankful for the impact he had in her life. He was very generous in welcoming me into his family. Rest in peace to a great man.
August 2, 2020
I was lucky enough to get to meet Bob on a few occasions. I will for ever be blessed by the family he raised and especially for the incredible granddaughter he helped raised that I am fortunate enough to be marrying. I got to have a few good conversations with him on the times we met. We were able to talk about current events and a even a football game he was watching. I could tell that he really cared for his family and he genuinely happy to be with them and welcome me into the family. He was a very special man and you can see that through the values he instilled in his lovely family. Rest in peace to a great man.
July 30, 2020
Dearest Florence and Family,
I am so saddened by the loss of your beloved husband, father and friend. My family and myself, were so fortunate to be bond to the Franke family. Bob was our family. I will always remember his great character and true love that he gave to everybody. His infectious laugh will keep me smiling when I think about him and his zest for life and his pride in his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. What a man, what a beautiful legacy.
All my love,
July 29, 2020
I only met Mr. Franke twice. The first time was at his granddaughter Devon’s wedding reception and then at a family gathering at hIs daughter Alisa’s home. He didn’t really know me but he was remarkably friendly and we enjoyed great conversation on those two occasions. I could tell that his family was everything to him and also how much he meant to all of them as well. It is certain he will be missed and his memory will be enduring and endearing. Roy Esposito-Delray Beach
July 29, 2020
Bob was always up for a celebration. He was a fun loving man. He was easy going. I can still hear his laugh. Bob enjoyed his family . He left a great legacy. He lived a full life. Bob was loved dearly. He will be missed by all. May he rest in peace.
My deepest condolences to his wife Florence, my dear friend Alisa, Michele and family