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Francis Stephen Wilder
Francis Stephen Wilder age 94 of Wells, MN died Thursday, December 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. Memorial Service will be 11:00 AM, Friday, June 18, 2021 at St. Casimir Catholic Church in Wells, MN, with Father Andrew Beerman officiating. Visitation will be Thursday, June 17, 2021 from 4:00-7:00 PM at Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home in Wells, MN with at rosary at 6:30 PM. Interment will be at St. Casimir Cemetery and Military Honors will be accorded by the Wells Color Guard. Please see www.brussheitner.com to leave online condolences. Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home in Wells, MN is in charge of arrangements.
Francis Stephen Wilder was born April 30, 1926 in Wells, MN, the son of William and Loretta (Hennessey Wilder. He attended St. Casimir Catholic School and graduated from Wells High School in 1943. He was entered into the United States Marine Corp in November of 1943. 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. After the war he spent time on Okinawa Island in M.P. duty. 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. Fran was certified as a Master Baker by the National Bakery Association in 1987. He then worked for Sorom Construction, both full-time and part-time for 14 years. 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 lifetime member of the American Legion and was Post Commander in 1956. He was also a member of the VFW and a life member of the Wells Color Guard, serving as their Chairman. Fran served on the Wells City Council from 1969-1972. He was also active as a coach and umpire in the American Legion baseball program from 1947-1967. Fran actively promoted the Wells Historical Society and enjoyed fishing, golfing and bowling. He was a member of St. Casimir Catholic Church, serving as an altar boy in his younger days and singing in the choir for many years.
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 was survived by his wife of 39 years, Geraldine of Wells, MN who died April 27, 2021; 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.