Of Menomonee Falls, WI. Set foot in Heaven on November 30, 2022, at the age of 85. Devoted wife to the late Joel Whitburn for 58 years. Dear mom of Kim (David) Bloxdorf and second mom to Oscar (Jennifer) Vidotto. Fiercely proud grandma of Samantha (Cory) Stark, Nathaniel Bloxdorf, Alessandro and Marchello Vidotto. Precocious great-grandma of Greyson and Liam Stark. Beloved sister of her twin, Jeanette (late Joaquin) Carias, and Richard (Regina) Mudgett. Cherished sister-in-law of Richard (late Margaret) Lambrecht, Charles (Joan) Whitburn, Joyce Riehl, David Whitburn, and Julie Rae (Kent) Niermeyer. Further survived by friends Bobby DeSai, Brent Olynick and Paul Haney, treasured caregiver “daughter” Margaret Daugherty, aunts Cruz Lagos and Nina (Tonio) Figueroa, uncle Jose Morales, her dear cousins, and her precious nieces and nephews.
Fran was born in Villanueva, Cortés, Honduras, to Ellsworth “Tom” and Luisa (nee: Morales) Mudgett. Her life was rich with a large extended family and rife with adventure (close encounters with a deadly snake and a crocodile, military coups, earthquakes, hurricanes, a foiled kidnapping). She earned her teaching certificate and also worked as a secretary for Coca Cola in San Pedro Sula.
In 1959, without knowing English and with only telegram to swiftly connect her with her family, Fran left Honduras to attend Elmhurst College in Illinois. In the summer of 1960, she served at a youth church camp in a deeply segregated Mississippi of that time, under threats of violence and arson. Over winter finals break in 1961, classmate Julie Rae brought her to her family home on Main Street in Menomonee Falls where the five-foot Fran would meet the six-and-a-half-foot Joel.
Fran married her Prince Charming and settled in a new land but with a twist on the “Cinderella” story. Her tireless, hard-work ethic and huge servant heart belied the fact that she, in fact, grew up with chauffeurs, housekeepers and boarding schools. Fran was always the first to offer help, jump in the fray and dirty her hands. Her strong support of Joel was the key to his success in turning his Record Research hobby into a small book publishing company.
Fran took pride in her position as a Spanish teacher for WCTC and her nine years as (the first) treasurer of the Long Lake Association. She and Joel made the most of their 22 years in Marco Island, Florida, and summers at Long Lake. Fran enjoyed gardening, Scrabble, ceramics, practical jokes, staying current with the news, and politics. She loved people and learning of their lives. A great listener, it was a special treat to get advice from Fran with her unique way of speaking and her wonderful accent.
Fran’s adventurous streak met its end in 2017 when a parasailing accident rendered her a paraplegic and claimed her independence. But that was when her true superhero strength was revealed. Not only was her body incredibly strong but her soul, spirit and faith endured and shone brightly over her final five difficult years. True to Fran fashion, she remained ever bursting with gratitude, humble, kind and considerate of others, unintentionally hilarious, and far from complaint.
Visitation at SCHMIDT & BARTELT FUNERAL HOME, N84 W17937 Menomonee Ave, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051, Friday, December 9th from 4:00 p.m. until the time of service at 5:30 p.m. Private interment at Lakeside Memorial Park in Waupaca, WI. Memorials are appreciated to Joni and Friends (PO Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-3333).
To watch the recorded service with your ZOOM account, please click here.