FRANCES MARY CZAPLEWSKI
August 5, 1928 – June 16, 2022
Raised on the family farm in Centerville, Wisconsin, Fran was the second child of Michael and Rose Bagniewski. Born at the start of The Great Depression, Fran and her siblings, Evelyn, Frank, and Dorothy, grew up accustomed to hard times and learned to appreciate life's simple things. On the farm, Fran would learn essential life skills taught to her by her mother- how to garden, tend to the animals, care for her younger siblings, canning, cooking, crocheting – preparing her for the life that lay ahead for her. Fran never could have imagined the long life that God would bless her with as a child.
At twenty years old, Fran found a man she chose to spend her life with. She and Dick had an old-fashioned kind of marriage…a through thick and thin…in sickness and health…for richer for poorer…house full of kids… kind of marriage. It was clear when she spoke of him that their love had grown and evolved during their 58-year marriage. Dick passed away in 2007, and she has missed him dearly.
It was clear to anyone who knew Fran that her greatest accomplishment and the source of all her pride was her family. Have you ever been in Fran's kitchen? A giant form of a refrigerator stands on one side, laden with magnets bearing photos and newspaper clippings of her children at various stages of their lives. Its presence is powerful and stands much like a 5-star general would stand at attention, displaying ribbons, badges, and medals on his chest. Each picture is a trophy…a celebration of something special and good in Fran's life. Fran loved her children. She loved them for their differences. She loved them as they were. With little prompting, Fran boastfully would share the latest accomplishments of Sandy, Mike, Bill, Cindy, or Kevin, relaying the everyday conversations and contacts that fill a mother's life. Fran loved her children, and they, in turn, provided her with more trophies for her heart…graduations, weddings, jobs, promotions, and grandchildren…trophies that, though very dear, remind a mother that her children are growing, changing, and leading their own lives.
I first met Fran in the summer of 2000 as the family gathered in the backyard for a cookout. Many more gatherings would follow this initial one – with fond memories of kids enjoying endless Bomb pops, perfectly cubed watermelon squares, and the best-baked goods Fran's sweet tooth could create for all to enjoy (like her delicious date bars).
Family events seemed to dominate her social calendar. She planned life and work around birthdays, holidays, baptisms, graduations, weddings, and school functions. When her own family passed through all the stages that growing children do, she began showering her love and attention on her ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Each one was made to feel important. Fran had a gift for taking the time to find something special and unique in each child. They loved her for her patience and attention. Once again, Fran's schedule was filled with birthdays, recitals, and school functions of these children who loved her.
Fran was a survivor. It is remarkable when you stop to think of all the historical events Fran has experienced in her 93 years. She has survived her parents, two sisters, and her husband. Despite several bouts with cancer, Fran was truly blessed with a long and healthy life.
In the past couple of months, Fran's life has become the center of our own. We ached for her as each new day presented a new challenge. We knew she understood. Knowing this may have been frightening, another level of knowledge and understanding allowed Fran to leave us all in peace. Fran understood that she was a child of God. She had a comfortable relationship with Him, and as in any solid, long-term relationship, she trusted that He would live up to his promises. When Fran left us, she understood what was coming next and willingly accepted God's embrace.
It has been said, "to live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." Fran's legacy lives on in each one of you.
Of St. Paul
Passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on June 16, 2022. Preceded in death by husband Richard "Dick" and sisters Evelyn Corey & Dorothy Walski. Survived by children Sandy, Mike (Shellie), Bill (Amy), Cindy Arko (Bryan) & Kevin; 10 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; brother Frank Bagniewski; other relatives & friends. Retired from the MN Department of Revenue. Lifelong Packer fan. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, June 27th at 10:30 am at Cathedral of Saint Paul, 239 Selby Avenue, St. Paul with visitation one hour before. Interment St. Mary's Cemetery, Winona, MN, Tuesday, June 28th at 11:00 am. Fran's family would like to thank the residents and staff of Cerenity- Marian Care Center for their friendship, love and compassion. Special thanks to Jodie and Shannon with Healthpartners Hospice for their care and kindness.