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Frances “Fran” Lillian Sprain, 88, of Westfield, passed away on June 20, 2012 at Harris Villa, Westfield. She was born on Jan. 17, 1924, the oldest of five children, to Francis and Lillian (Breitenfelt) Russell. Fran graduated from Westfield High School in 1941 and attended University of Wisconsin-Madison. She married Donald G. Sprain April 18, 1944 at Westfield.
Fran grew up on the family farm on Russell Flats, named for the area her ancestors settled in 1850 southwest of Westfield. She had a strong sense of place, family heritage and roots in Marquette County. Over the years, she and Don lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico and several Wisconsin communities including Madison, Lake Mills, Waukesha, Dodgeville and Hammond. They farmed for many years on Russell Flats where they raised their family and, later, retired.
Fran immersed herself in the culture, customs and people of the area and developed life-long friendships everywhere she lived. Her passions included creative writing, family and local history, quilling, folk dancing and customs, needlework, reading, and collecting bottles, plates and spoons.
She was a dedicated wife, mother and volunteer. She was active in Immanuel Lutheran Church and choir, writers clubs, Marquette County Historical Society where she was curator of the museum for 25 years, Farm Bureau, 4-H, FHA and Folklore Village in Dodgeville.
After active involvement in her children’s lives and they were grown, she launched a career as freelance writer that lasted 30 years. Fran researched and wrote a weekly column for the Marquette County Tribune for 17 years; then self-published selected columns in three books titled “PLACES and FACES in Marquette County Wis.”. Her research is deemed so thorough that her books have been accepted into the Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, the world’s largest genealogy library. Her books are also used as references in the History Library at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Fran is survived by her four children, Mary (John) Fullmer, Westfield, David (Chris) Sprain, Westfield, Daniel (Connie) Sprain, Lodi, Steven Sprain, Mineral Point; ten grandchildren, Christine (Rafael) Delgado, Debra (Michael) Saturley, Michelle (Glen) Podoll, Stacey, Craig, Lydia, Anyka, Mariah, Micah and Kyla Sprain; four step-grandchildren, Mike (Susan) Behrendt, Toni Jones, Kelly (Bill) McCune and Kim (Mark) Tucker; six great grandchildren, Joshua, Carmen, Tyler, Jeremy, Jason, and Cameron; two sisters, Margery (John) Dorfmeister, Colorado and Helen McMasters, Delavan; one brother, Robert (Nancy) Russell, Colorado; sister-in-law, Elsa Russell, Montello; other brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Don; brother, Hance Russell and step-granddaughter, Terri Goodman.
Her kind and gentle nature and her exceptional listening and relationship skills made her a very special person. Fran will live on in the hearts of those she loved and those who loved her.
We welcome you to join in the celebration of her life. A memorial service for Fran will be held on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Westfield with Rev. Dale Bahls officiating. Inurnment will be in Oak Hill Cemetery, Russell Flats, Town of Westfield. A memorial visitation will be held on Sunday, June 24, 2012 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Steinhaus-Holly Funeral Home, Westfield and on Monday from 10:00 a.m. until the hour of service at the church. Steinhaus-Holly Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Westfield is serving the family. Please share memories at www.steinhaushollyfuneralhome.com
Fran’s family wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Nan and the staff at Harris Villa for their compassionate care and the family atmosphere. They made Harris Villa “home” for Fran. Additional thanks to Agnesian Health Care Hospice Hope and Northland Home Health for their services and support.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Fran’s memory to Immanuel Lutheran Church (P.O. Box 397, Westfield); Marquette County Historical Society (P.O. Box 172, Westfield); Oak Hill Cemetery Association (W7729 Evergreen Ave., Westfield), and Harris Villa (N6581 Villa Pkwy, Westfield, WI 53964).
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