Bernice M. Maruska (nee Frantzen)
Bernice Maruska, age 87, of Saint Paul, Minnesota and former resident of Alta Vista, Iowa passed away peacefully Sunday, February 12, 2006, at United Hospital in St. Paul, MN. Preceded in death by father and mother, Joe and Rose Frantzen, former residents of Alta Vista, IA; husband, Clarence, former resident of Cresco, IA; and son, Lee. Survived by children, Terry (Jeneice) of St. Paul, MN; James (Camila) of St. Paul, MN; Jean (Ray) Tuchner of St. Paul, MN; Mark (Danette) of Mahtomedi, MN; Mary Kay (Gerry) Hokanson of St. Paul, MN; Jay of St. Paul, MN; Ann (Rich) Warec of St. Paul, MN, Joan (King) Elder of Minneapolis, MN; and Julene of St. Paul, MN; including 17 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren; sisters, Olivia Ralph of Lombard, IL, former resident of New Hampton, IA; Fritz Tozzi of Arlington Heights, IL; Helen (Wally) Fair of Elma, IA; and Joan Larson of Sedona, AZ.
Bernice Elda Frantzen was born March 26, 1918, in Alta Vista, Iowa to the parents of Joe and Rose Frantzen. Joe and Rose farmed and raised a family of ten children (Olivia, John, Marie, Dorothy, Alfrieda, Bernice, Joseph, Helen, Leonard, Joan) four miles east of Alta Vista until retiring in 1947 and moved into town. The Frantzen family were long time parishioners of St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Alta Vista and where Bernice was baptized "Mary" on March 31, 1918. Bernice was the sixth child of ten and attended elementary and high school in Alta Vista. She was the first Frantzen family child to graduate high school. She took three years of college courses to be an elementary school teacher and taught in a one-room school house in Chickasaw County for a couple of years before her marriage to Clarence F. Maruska. On August 25, 1941, Bernice Frantzen and Clarence Maruska were united in marriage at St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Alta Vista. The following year, they moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota where Clarence worked for American Hoist and Derrick and Bernice worked as a homemaker and later worked as an elementary school teacher. They raised a family of ten in the West Seventh end of St. Paul until her husband's death in 1969. Bernice returned to college to finish her teaching degree and then continued working in various private and public schools in St. Paul. During the 1970's, Bernice opened the doors of her home to foreign exchange students and refugee immigrants from around the world to help them get on their feet and a start of a new life in America. It is estimated that over 100 people have been welcomed into Bernice's home over the years. She was very active in the neighborhood and several Catholic parishes. She earned a master's in Pastoral Ministry from the College of St. Thomas, conducted prayer services for 10 years at Winslow Commons, was a lector and Eucharistic minister at St. James and St. Stanislaus Catholic Churches, spent time with the mentally disabled residents of Family Style Homes, and worked at the Guadalupe Area Project high school. Bernice is a former president of St. Vincent De Paul Society in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis. She worked full-time at the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift store on West Seventh Street from September 1986 until November 2004, after which, she continued to volunteer 2 hours a day. In May of 2005, she was awarded the David Sons Community Service Award from the West Seventh Community Center for her life of service to others. Just before her death in February, Bernice was crowned Queen of the Winter Carnival by the Wilder Adult Day Health Services because of her kindness to others.
In May of 2005 during an interview with the Pioneer Press for the David Sons Community Service Award, Bernice commented on her life saying, "I enjoyed being involved with family, neighborhood and the church, and to be able to help others without expecting anything in return." "Be generous and love to share." Bernice's life will be remember for her love of people, generosity, love for family and friends, and her selfless need to serve others.
Bernice Maruska's life will be celebrated with a Visitation on Thursday, February 16, 4-8 PM at WILLERSCHEID FUNERAL HOME (1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul) & 1 hour prior to the Mass of Christian Burial Friday, February 17, 11 AM at St. James Catholic Church (496 View St., St. Paul) and Interment on Saturday, February 18, 1:30 PM at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights. Memorials preferred to St. Vincent De Paul Society.*
*Visitation Memorial Card at Willerscheid Funeral Home; Cresco Times-Plain Dealer newspaper, February 23, 2006 & New Hampton newspapers, February 17, 2006.
Clarence Francis Maruska
1908–1969 (m. 1941)
Olivia Frantzen Ralph
John Victor Frantzen
Marie M. Frantzen Hilsman
Dorothy E. Frantzen Reynolds
Alfrieda Mary Frantzen Tozzi
Joseph Wilfred Frantzen
Helen Pauline Frantzen Fair
Leonard Charles Frantzen
Joan Theresa Frantzen Larson Benner
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