Frances M. Schlimgen

Frances M. Schlimgen's Obituary

WAUNAKEE, Wis. – Frances M. Schlimgen, aged 92, of Waunakee, passed away at her home on Friday May 22, 2020.

Fran was born in Madison on Nov. 16, 1927, the daughter of Simon and Inga (Moen) Anderson. An eastside native, Fran graduated East High School in 1946 and cherished a lifelong memory of being named Prom Queen in 1945. Fran grew up in the predominantly Norwegian Schenk’s Corners Neighborhood, where she attended Trinity Lutheran Church and worked in her younger years for Olaf Strand’s Bakery and Security State Bank. Fran took great pride in her Norwegian heritage and was thrilled to finally meet her relatives from Haegebosted, Norway, when they travelled to Wisconsin in 2013. While working at the bank, she and her girlfriends noticed the future love of her life, Fritz Schlimgen, a sailor home on leave at the end of World War II. Intrigued by his curly blond hair and his rare ability to save money while in the service, Fran accepted the invitation for a blind date with Fritz from their mutual friend, Darrell “Mac” McCluskey. They met at Burrows Park for a bank picnic and it was love at first sight. Fran and Fritz were married a year later on June 17, 1947, at St. Bernard Catholic Church on Atwood Avenue and were blessed to be married for 71 years. As newlyweds, they lived for their first five years in an apartment above Fritz’s father’s Ohio Tavern, where they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2017.  In 1951, they moved to their home on Lake Mendota built by Fritz and his father, Bert, shortly before the birth of their first daughter.

In 1949, Fritz and his brother-in-law, Joe Rowley, founded Rowley & Schlimgen, a well-known Madison business for over five decades, where Fran served as the first secretary of the company. Fran’s tireless work as a homemaker and mother of four daughters allowed Fritz to focus on the growth of the business. Her remarkable charm and social skills were brought to bear frequently to entertain customers and colleagues, many of whom became close friends over the years. Fran found living on the lake to be a magnet for entertaining friends and family and hosted many special events and parties at their home throughout the rest of her life.

Fritz, Fran and daughters attended St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in Westport and for nearly seven decades supported numerous celebrations and fundraising activities while developing many of their closest friendships. Fran was also a member and past president of the Catholic Women’s Club in Madison and the Lakeshore Club, comprised of neighboring homeowners on the north shore of Lake Mendota.

In 1963, Fran joined the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary at the invitation of a friend and found her calling as a volunteer, bringing comfort to patients and families and raising funds for the hospital’s special needs. Fran eventually served two terms as president and donated 26,000 hours of her time, attending events until the last year of her life as the longest serving volunteer in the Auxiliary’s history.

Fran had a gift for engaging others with sincere interest, putting them at ease, often with humor. She was a wise listener with a great capacity for empathy and a joyful, grateful view of life. Even the smallest kindness received a beautifully written thank you note from Fran – a lost art we will greatly miss. She will be remembered for her consistently impeccable appearance, which she saw as a sign of self-respect and respect for others, reflecting inner beauty and grace, despite life’s challenges.

Fran is survived by her sister, Donna Hasz: four daughters, Kathy (Robert Fillingame) Schlimgen, Nancy (Rich Lampe) Schlimgen, Jennifer (Miles Meyer) Schlimgen and Ann (John Thomsen) Schlimgen; four granddaughters, Laura (Mike) Knudtson, Julia Frances (Kemal Farrokhnia) Fillingame, Lisa (David) Abraham and Theresa (Greg) Piquette; two grandsons, Patrick (Natalie) Benish and Richie (Mallory) Lampe; great-granddaughter, Maia Knudtson; great-grandsons, Reid Knudtson, Brock and Rocky Benish. She was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Frederick Schlimgen; and siblings, Melvin (Helen) Anderson and Lillian (Henry) Ralston.