Wilma  Franz

Wilma Ristvedt Franz

1925 - 2024

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Obituary of Wilma Ristvedt Franz

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Wilma Ristvedt Franz of Aiken, South Carolina died at home with her family on Friday, April 5, 2024. She had resided in Aiken for 52 years, moving to SC when her husband took a faculty position at USC in the Department of Education. She was preceded in death by her husband, Harold Judson Franz, and her parents, William and Eleanor Ristvedt, and her sister, Rita Ristvedt Landahl.

Wilma was born in 1925 and had just begun her 100th year. She grew up in Minneapolis during the Great Depression and remembers helping her mother run a boarding house when she was 12, as well as sell donuts in the neighborhood to stay afloat. She was a lifelong musician, pianist, harpist, and organist, learning the harp as a youth as part of her Welsh heritage. She graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois with an organ major and a piano minor in 1947. While at Wheaton College she accompanied the choral groups on piano, and it was through choir she met her husband, Harold, also a student. They were married in 1946 while still students.

Wilma became a teacher, first a music teacher in Philadelphia, then a 4th grade teacher in rural Ohio, and finally a remedial reading teacher in both rural West Virginia and Aiken, South Carolina for many years. Going above and beyond for her students, she often made home visits to families where students were struggling or absent, took measures to support students and advocate for their needs. She was well-loved in her role.

Her musical career also continued throughout her life. Wilma was a church organist and pianist for well over 70 years, first in Topsham United Presybterian Church in East Topsham, Vermont, also in churches in Ohio and West Virginia, First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, and New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Aiken, South Carolina.

In her retirement, Wilma tutored students and spent many years working with a ministry to prison inmates, grading their English and Bible papers and corresponding with them until her death. She cared deeply about prison reform. She was also an avid reader, seamstress, and knitter.

Throughout her life, Wilma corresponded with many friends from across the years, including childhood and college friends and family from across the country.  She wrote letters of encouragement and also wrote to public organizations and newspapers as a citizen advocate for common sense reforms.

Wilma was deeply committed to her family and was a loving and faithful wife to Harold for sixty-three years. They are survived by two daughters, Ann Peck of Topsham, Vermont, and Patrice Penney, of Columbia, South Carolina, sons-in-law Bruce Peck and Don Penney, three grandchildren, Judson Peck, Elaina Penney, and Jordan Penney, granddaughter-in-law Averill Pazdro, and one great grandchild, Bryce Pazdro-Peck. Wilma was a very engaged mother and grandmother, who delighted in visits with her family at home, across the country, and the world.

Wilma and Harold were deeply committed to Christian faith and to serving their local congregation. A celebration of her faith and life will be held on Friday, April 26th, 2024 at 11 am at New Covenant Presbyterian Church, 526 Hitchcock Parkway, in Aiken. It will be followed immediately by a reception and light luncheon.

A second memorial service will be held at the Topsham United Presbyterian Church in East Topsham, Vermont at a later date. It was this church that Harold and Wilma pastored in the 1950’s, and they have maintained ties to their beloved church and community. The service will be followed by her burial.

The Historic George Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 211 Park Ave., SW, Aiken, SC 29801 (803.649.6234), has charge of arrangements.

Expressions of sympathy for the family may be left by visiting www.georgefuneralhomes.com


Funeral Service

11:00 am
Friday, April 26, 2024
New Covenant Presbyterian Church
526 Hitchcock Pkwy
Aiken, South Carolina, United States
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Wilma  Franz

In Loving Memory

Wilma Franz

1925 - 2024

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