Funeral services were held on Monday, June 14, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Storm Lake. Burial was in the Buena Vista Memorial Park Cemetery in Storm Lake. The Sliefert Funeral Home in Storm Lake was in charge of the arrangements.
She was born on March 1, 1929 in Storm Lake to Walter and Edith Franzmeier and was the oldest of three sisters. Frances graduated from high school at Albert City in 1947 where she was a member of the basketball team. She played the clarinet and piano and sang with her sisters. After high school she attended the Iowa Beauty School in Des Moines, graduating in 1948. She then returned to Storm Lake to share first a room at a rooming house and then an apartment with her sister, Dorothy, as she worked for Elsie Ritchie in her beauty salon. She met the love of her life, Lael Lessmeier, at the Cobblestone skating rink in 1948, shortly after he returned from service in Germany. They spent many lovely evenings together dancing at the Cobblestone Ballroom. Lael and Frances were married on June 25, 1950 and almost immediately after began building their home on Northwestern Drive in Storm Lake, a project they began with no building experience and little more than the belief that they could do it. In 1953 their son Jeff was born, to be followed by sons Mike, Greg, Tim and Russ. In 1960 Frances and Lael moved their family to an old farmhouse on an acreage west of the Storm Lake airport because of their belief that raising their sons in the country would be better for them. They spent many happy years there raising their family, remodeling the farmhouse and celebrating many special occasions with family and friends. Frances loved these years with her family on the acreage. She savored the sound of the birds returning to the surrounding trees in the spring and the sight of fresh spring flowers. She loved the colors of fall. She spent many happy hours baking bread, red cake and apple pie for her family, or canning fruit and vegetables with her mother, Edith, and her sisters, Dorothy and Gladys. She often said these years raising her family were the years she remembered best. Frances was a courageous survivor of breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 1970. She later said her goal was to see each of her sons graduate from high school. She not only saw her sons graduate from high school, but she saw each graduate from college and she saw most of her grandchildren graduate from high school as well. In 1982, Frances and Lael moved from their acreage to Billings, Mont. where they spent two wonderful years living in and exploring a part of the country they had never been to. In 1984, work took Frances and Lael to a beautiful, old craftsman home in Brewster, Minn. that Frances fell in love with on sight. Frances and Lael happily remained in their home in Brewster until they returned to Storm Lake in 2007. Throughout the years, Frances was an avid collector and restorer of antiques. Her homes were filled with beautiful hand caned chairs, a skill she learned herself and taught to others. She also lovingly restored and displayed many other antiques. She collected old glass and almost everything else, making many "finds" at garage sales and auctions. She loved to play card games with her sisters and their husbands, and she had a special relationship with Dorothy's daughter, Susan, who she loved as if she were her own daughter. She raised her sons to be fearless travelers, and she in turn became a fearless traveler, as she visited them in Montana, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. On her trips to Alaska she joyfully survived rough boat trips, caught a halibut that was bigger than she was and hiked on trails around Juneau. She became an international traveler as well, exploring Canada, Australia and Germany. One of her favorite times was the annual trip with family to Northern Minnesota. These trips began when her family was young and started a tradition that has continued to bring her family together in a place of beauty. This is a tradition she wanted to continue.
Frances was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. She was loved dearly by her parents, Edith and Walter Franzmeier, and she in turn loved them dearly. She cherished her relationships with her sisters Dorothy and Gladys and they cherished her. She and Lael were loving and devoted partners in life for nearly 60 years, and were inseparable until the very end. She was a constant source of love, wisdom and inspiration to her children, her grandchildren, her nieces and nephews. Throughout her life she supported her family with her grace and strength of spirit.
In August of 2009 Frances was diagnosed again with cancer. She faced her diagnosis with the same strength of spirit with which she lived her life. She said many times that she was grateful for her life and that she took life one day at a time. Even as her body grew weak, she continually sought to give joy to others and her spirit remained strong as she left this world. Her spirit will remain alive forever in the hearts of her family and friends.
Frances was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Edith Franzmeier, her grandparents Conrad and Ida Franzmeier and Henry and Minnie Beckfield, her brother in law John Kennedy, her sister in law, Donna Reng and her nephew, Terry Peterson.
Frances is survived by her husband Lael and sons Jeff Lessmeier and his wife Carolyn of Alta, Mike Lessmeier and his wife Sherrill Rinehart of Ashland, Ore., Greg Lessmeier and his wife Deb of Juneau, Alaska, Tim Lessmeier and his wife Susan of Spokane, Wash. and Russ Lessmeier and his wife, Shallee, of Eureka, Mo. Francis is survived by her sisters, Dorothy Kennedy of Storm Lake and Gladys Murphy and her husband Bob of Tulsa, Okla. She is survived by her sister and brother in law, Mary and Carl Peterson of Storm Lake, 10 grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.