1911 - 2012
Nov. 25, 1911 - Aug. 12, 2012
Our beloved mother passed away in Seattle on Aug. 12, 2012, four months before her 101st birthday. She was born Kaisa Tuuliki Margarete Leppanen on Nov. 25, 1911, six months after her parents, Ida Riutta and Hjalmar Leppanen, emigrated from Finland to DeKalb, Ill. She grew up in Rock Island, Ill., where she graduated from Rock Island Business College and was employed by the local office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where she met her husband, Edwin C. (“Fritz”) Franzen. They were married on June 29, 1935, in Rock Island and lived in Washington, D.C. and Tulsa, Okla., before moving to Walla Walla, where they lived for twenty years, during which time Fritz served as Chief of Engineering for the Walla Walla District Office of the Corps. After retirement, they lived in Rio de Janeiro for three years where Fritz was chief engineer for the construction of the Mascarenhas dam. Subsequently, they lived for 35 years in Port Townsend, Wash., until Fritz passed away in 2006 at age 98, eight months after they had celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2007, Margaret moved to Seattle and lived at Merrill Gardens Queen Anne until her death.
Margaret was a devoted stay-at-home mom, who involved herself wholeheartedly in the inevitable school and other activities of her four children, as well as in local groups, being secretary of the United Fund, a board member of the Walla Walla Symphony, and a member of the State Board of the League of Women Voters, attending a national convention in Chicago as the Walla Walla delegate. She was a 52-year member of the PEO Sisterhood and a Life Member of Beta Sigma Phi.
She was a skilled craftswoman (knitting, needlepoint, counted cross-stitch, woven reed baskets, and greeting cards made with pressed flowers) and home decorator (reupholstering furniture, caning chair seats, wallpapering, and painting). During their retirement, she and Fritz traveled to numerous countries on six continents,
Throughout her life Margaret loved gardening and grew many flowers from seed in her greenhouse. She began to collect stamps in childhood and over the years amassed extensive collections from the United States, Finland, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea. In later years, she developed a keen interest in genealogy. Her translation of a 140-page Riutta family history from 1530 to the present, composed by a cousin in Finland, is preserved in the Library of Congress. As her eyesight began to fail, her three daughters helped her organize a great deal of accumulated material on our Riutta, Leppanen (Korventausta), Franzen, and Janssen ancestry.
She was predeceased by her sister, Mabel Leppanen Glancey. Survivors include four children, Ellen Dissanayake of Seattle, Richard (and Margo) Franzen of Herndon, Va., and Vienna, Austria, Elizabeth (and Seth) Ratliff of Cary, N.C.; Susan (and John) Anderson of Reno, NV; eight grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.
At her wish, there will be no funeral service. Remembrances in her name may be made to the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, 2021 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98129.