Frances (Lenahan) Wunderlin: 1923-2020
Frances Marie (nee Lenahan) Wunderlin, a longtime Fairfield, OH resident, passed away October 16, 2020 at the age of 97. Fran was born to James and Catherine (Sweeney) Lenahan in 1923 and grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey during the Great Depression. In her teenage years, Fran worked at Macy’s in New York City, and she loved reminiscing about playing an elf in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Fran met Charlie, her husband of 74 years, in Bayonne. They were engaged the evening before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fran became part of the war effort, working as a “Rosie” in a factory in New Jersey.
Following the war, she and Charlie moved to Franklin Lakes, NJ and started a family. While raising her two daughters, Fran directed award-winning community theater productions, managed the Volunteer Fireman’s rummage sales and firehouse Christmas parties, and worked as a master seamstress. In her younger years, Fran was a talented speed skater and took advantage of opportunities to get on the ice. She loved the Jersey shore and enjoyed her twenty years in Franklin Lakes.
In 1966, Charlie’s work brought the family to Ohio. Fran quickly became immersed in the local community. She was a Special Education learning and teaching aid at Fairfield High School, taught swimming classes for Special Education students, and helped Fairfield South Elementary School students hone their reading skills. Fran enjoyed working at local department and kitchen supply stores. Pairing customers with the perfect cooking equipment put a smile on her face. Fran always considered herself fortunate to live near her youngest grandchild, Alex. She enjoyed spending extensive time with him, taking him on countless after-school and snow day adventures.
Fran lived to cook holiday feasts for family gatherings; there was always plenty of delicious food. In fact, guests’ only complaint was that there wasn’t enough time to digest one amazing meal before the next one was served. Fran traveled internationally, visiting dozens of countries. She traveled with her daughter Karen, granddaughter, nieces, or friends. In her free time, she also enjoyed playing bridge, gin rummy, and gardening. She loved discussing politics and struggled to understand the tone in recent years versus the statesmanship of bygone eras. Fran was remarkably spry through her 80’s, visiting libraries to choose and deliver books to “old people” and enjoying group swimming classes. To the end, Fran was a voracious reader. Even at age 97, she continued reading a book and several newspapers every day.
Fran will be missed by her daughter, Gail (Phil Clavey) Wunderlin; grandchildren Scott (Susan James) Savage, Megan (Bob) Hart, and Alex (Kelly) Beigh; and great grandsons Lucas Savage, William Hart, and Andrew Hart.
Fran was preceded in death by her husband Charles Wunderlin; her parents James T and Catherine (Sweeney) Lenahan; her step-mother Bea Lenahan; her daughter Karen (Wunderlin) Savage (John Savage); sisters Helen (Lenahan) Pulido, Marie (Lenahan) Greeves, Kathleen Lenahan (Sister Thomasine) and brother Thomas Lenahan; and niece Wendy Greeves.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN at https://www.oldenburgfranciscans.org/donate.html.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Avance Funeral Home and Crematory.
A memorial mass will be held in summer, 2021.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Frances Marie (Lenahan) Wunderlin, please visit our floral store.