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Francis Stephen Wilder
Francis Stephen Wilder age 94 of Wells, MN died Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020 at Parkview Center in Wells, MN of natural causes. Present with him were his wife, Geraldine and daughter and son-in-law Kathryn and Matthew Mellen. Funeral services to be held at a later date . Please see www.brussheitner.com to leave online condolences. Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home in Wells, MN is in charge of arrangements.
Fran was born April 30, 1926 on a farm southeast of Wells, in Freeborn County. His parents were Loretta (Hennessey) and William Wilder. He was the second oldest of six children. Fran graduated from Wells High School in 1943. He was inducted into the Marine Corp on Dec. 6, 1943 in St. Paul, MN. Corporal Wilder attended Cooks & Bakers school in the Marines and was sent to the Pacific and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima from Feb. through Mar. 1945. He was Honorably Discharged on May 30, 1946.
Fran married Dona Marie Fisher on Feb. 10, 1947 and had seven children (Steve, Bill, Lori, Mike, Emilie, Ruth, Kathryn) and later divorced. Fran then married Erma Ott in Jan. 1973. After Erma’s death in 1979 he married Geraldine Fritz on Sept. 26, 1981 in Faribault, MN.
Fran worked many jobs in his life including butcher, carpenter, and baker. He opened Fran’s Bakery in Nov. 1964 and also owned and operated the Corner Café until he sold the building. A new bakery building was built and he ran the bakery until Nov. 1992 when he sold it. He then worked for Jim Sorom as a carpenter until Jim’s retirement. Fran then worked for USC schools as a bus stop monitor greeting students as they arrived to school in the morning and seeing them onto the buses at the end of the day. Declining health finally had him discontinue working in 2014.
Fran was a proud member of the American Legion and active as a coach and umpire in the American Legion baseball program. He actively promoted the Wells Historical Society and enjoyed fishing, golfing and bowling.
Fran was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Jeanne (Robert) Enderson, Terry (Lois) Wilder, Billy Wilder, Alys Smith, Noni (Jim) Clark; grandson William Mellen; step-children Jackie Fritz and David Fritz.
He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Geraldine of Wells, MN, children Stephen (Susan) Wilder of Willow, NY, Bill (Susan) Wilder of Warren, AR, Lori (Lynn) Williams of Dayton, TX, Mike (Susan) Wilder of Jacksonville, AR, Emilie Stenzel of Mankato, MN, Ruth (Carl) Hansen of Hartland, WI, Kathryn (Matt) Mellen of South St. Paul, MN, step-daughter Lola (Ron) Van Erp of Faribault, MN, 15 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, brother-in-law David Smith, and many nieces and nephews.