Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Marilyn Franken, words such as vibrant, compassionate, and loving come to mind, however, perhaps the words that paint the most vivid picture of her are devoted servant. She was an encourager who loved to serve her friends, her family, those in her church home and many others within her community and throughout the world. Her love of people radiated from her beautiful smile and Marilyn’s greatest joy in life was spending time with her family. She cherished each of her eight grandchildren uniquely and faithfully prayed for them daily. Deeply loved, she will be forever remembered.
Looking back on the 1930’s, it is hard to find any area that was not directly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression. Banks were still closing but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting. During the midst of one of the toughest decades in American history, Rev. Edward and Agnes (Peters) welcomed home the arrival of their newborn daughter, Marilyn Joy, born on Sunday, January 11,1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As her appropriately chosen middle name suggests, Marilyn brought great joy into her family’s hearts and happiness into an era of hard times.
Growing up in Pella, Iowa she attended local schools and graduated with the Class of 1949 from Pella High. Ambitious and determined, Marilyn attended Central College and received both her Bachelors of Science in Nursing and a Registered Nursing degree in 1954. For several years following graduation, she worked as the Director of Nursing with the American Mission Hospital located in Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. Marilyn often attributed her career successes and many accomplishments to being the daughter of a minister. Her parents were wise, loving and God-fearing and had a constant stream of wonderful visitors in her home. As a young person, her family had an entire spectrum of missionaries, businessmen, musicians, women of character, teachers and professionals. Each time she had the opportunity to interact with any one of them, she grew in her own knowledge and in deeper appreciation of her faith life. Her parents modeled a life rich with compassion and service, so it was no surprise that Marilyn would also choose a life partner who was a pastor like her father. Rev. Darrell Franken and Marilyn were joined in marriage on June 5, 1959. In their early years together, they pastored a church in Grand Rapids. Prior to starting their own family, they lovingly fostered many children until God so richly blessed them with their own.
Both she and Rev. Darrell had a strong commitment to the Arabic community and their passion for helping others drew them back to Bahrain where they continued missionary work as a couple. Later in 1969, they returned to the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan to raise their children in Holland, Michigan. Marilyn’s astounding career spanned sixty two years as a Registered Nurse in many areas of nursing including Obstetric, Medical Surgical, Geriatric and Home care nursing. The highlight of her career, however, was her time working as a Nurse Manager in acute care at the Holland Hospital. Not surprisingly to anyone that knew Marilyn, she also served as a nurse in the Red Cross, spending time in Kuwait immediately after the Gulf War. She forever gave selflessly to others in need, responding with courage and Jesus Christ as her guide.
Always one to be busy, Marilyn had many interests. Her love for people and different cultures led to extensive travel in Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, India, Korea, Singapore and America. Remarkably, she started each of her days with four miles on her treadmill. She loved to run or walk and keep herself in good shape for wherever her next adventure may take her! Over the years, Marilyn grew fond of the classical arts and masterfully played both the cello and the piano. She was a regular attender of the Holland Symphony, Holland Summer Concert Series and Hope College Repertory Theater productions. When she wasn’t traveling or spending time with her family, she also spent many years serving as an Elder at the Third Reformed Church giving of her time and her expertise to her faith community. All who knew Marilyn would agree that she was such a blessing to everyone she met. Dedicated, kind and loyal to her Savior, she will be deeply missed and her wonderful collection of memories will live on in the hearts of her beautiful family and many special friends.
Marilyn Franken, 85, of Holland went suddenly to be with her Lord and Savior on Friday, July 22, 2016. Preceded in death by her husband Rev. Darrell Franken, a son Joel who died in childbirth, her parents and her brother Paul (Marge) Tanis.
Survived by her children: Kent (Maggie) Franken of Holland: Julie (Jeff) Thompson of Kalamazoo; Todd (Galyna) Franken of Rockville, MD; Grandchildren: Eric, Nick (Kylie), Sarah, Renee, Meg, Evander, Sophia and Alexander; Brothers Elliot (Elaine) Tanis of Holland and Wayne (Mary Jane) Tanis of Hamilton. Visitation will take place Thursday, July 28, from 4:00 -7:00 pm at the Mulder Chapel in Dykstra Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 29 at 11:00 am at Third Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.