The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 Francis Josef “Franzi/O'pa” Willimann

Francis Josef “Franzi/O'pa” Willimann

Zurich, Bezirk Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
Death 23 Aug 2011 (aged 79)
Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, USA
Burial Yarmouth, Cumberland County, Maine, USA
Memorial ID 100646278 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Francis 'Franzi/'O'pa' Josef Willimann's paternal grandparents were:
Josef Franz Willimann (b. in the 1800's) &
Maria Lena Bolliger, b. Jul. 26, 1874.

His maternal grandfather was August C.N.J. Benziger, one of the most sought-after portrait painters of his time in Europe. His subjects ranged from two Popes, including Leo XIII and Pius XI, to princes, from seven presidents, including Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt to businessmen.
August Benziger was b. Jan. 2, 1867 in Einsielden, Switzerland and d. Apr. 13, 1955 in New York City (see Find A Grave Memorial # 7654213)
Francis' maternal grandmother was Gertrude Lytton (daughter of Henry C. Lytton, a Jewish gentleman from South Carolina)), b. Dec. 25, 1875 in Chicago, IL. and d. Apr. 10, 1966 in New York City.
August and Gertrude had three daughters:
1. Marieli Benziger,
2. Marguerite-Marie Benziger, R.S.C., a Sacred Heart nun.
3. Helene H. Benziger, (Franzi's mother). She owned a hotel in Switzerland.

Francis 'Franzi' was the youngest of four children born to:
Joseph Stephan 'O'Daddy' Willimann, b. 1891 and d. 1980 &
Helene 'O'Mimi' H. Benziger, b. 1900 and d. 1979.

Joseph and Helen Willimann had three children:
1. Gertrude 'Trudi' Willimann (a twin), b. Jul. 06, 1927. She marr. Hugh Shaw.
2. Anton Willimann (a twin), b. Jul. 06, 1927 and d. the same day.
3. Marie Louise 'Mimi' Willimann, b. Sep. 21, 1928 and d. Jun. 14, 2003
4. Francis Joseph 'Franzi/'O'pa' Willimann, b. Jun. 24, 1932 in Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland and d. Aug. 23, 2011 in Portland, Cumberland, ME. He marr. Helene H. Benziger.

Portland - Francis J. Willimann, "Franzi" or "Opa" to his friends and family, passed away on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. Born June 24, 1932 in Zurich Switzerland, he was a proud graduate of Villanova University and resided in Cumberland Foreside.

His long and fruitful life, lived with an incredible devotion to his wife, his family, and the blessed Mother Mary, is best summarized in the opening words of his recently written biography, Franzi:

"With a great sense of adventure, Franzi Willimann lived a happy and successful life…
A retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, Army Veteran, husband, and father of four, [Franzi] was a proud American. But he began life in Swizterland in the 1930's, the child of hard-working hoteliers who taught him to love life, to cherish his faith and his family, and to give generously of himself every single day. Beloved by his family and a multitude of devoted friends, success, for this most happy fellow, is a divine mix of the dark and the light, the joys and the sorrows of everyday living. With extraordinary humor and simplicity, his [life] offered each one of us a road map to lasting joy and contentment...
He showed that the secret to true happiness is not in what we do, where we live, or how much we achieve, nor is it found in physical beauty, wealth, or social status. True happiness is created in tender minutia, in the small details of lives lived with devoted attention to relationships, to humble service, and to love.
[The life] of "O'pa," was a genuine treasure of a life bestowing its riches on all those it touched as it unfolded – one glorious day, one devoted hour, one joyously savored moment at a time."

Franzi is survived by his beloved wife of fifty-one years, Marie-Jose' Willimann, his sister, Gertrude Chandler, his four children, Angela Widmer, Stefan Willimann, Helene Michalski', and Bernard Willimann; and his ten loving grandchildren.

There will be no visitation.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11a.m. Friday August 26, 2011 at the Holy Martyrs Church 266 Foreside Road Falmouth. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery Yarmouth.
Arrangements are being handled by the Lindquist Funeral Home, One Mayberry Lane, Yarmouth, ME.

*Note: One of Francis' sons, Bernard Willimann, wrote a book in 2010 about him, entitled 'Franzi: This Is Our Dad, O'pa'.

According to the Froissair Air Passenger manifest, 18 year old Franz J. Willimann departed from Zurich International Airport and arrived to NY. on Sept. 9, 1950. His occupation was student and he was not traveling with another relative of the same last name.

According to his April 25, 1955 Petition for Naturalization, filed in Augusta, Georgia, Franz Josef Willimann was then living at 1 East 66th Street in NYC, NY. He was born on June 24, 1932 in Zurich, Switzerland.
He was described as 6' tall, weighing 190 lbs., with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and blond hairand with no distinguishing marks. He was unmarried and had no children.
Franz served honorably in the U.S. Army, from December 7, 1954 and was still on actived duty.


To our beloved parents whose love and devotion to our Lord and to each other has touched all of our lives




  • Maintained by: Chloé
  • Originally Created by: J. E.
  • Added: 13 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100646278
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Francis Josef “Franzi/O'pa” Willimann (24 Jun 1932–23 Aug 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100646278, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Yarmouth, Cumberland County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Chloé (contributor 47159257) .