On June 20, 1953, when Francis was 19, he married the love of his life, Maryllis Estelle Rode. They were inseparable for nearly 70 years. Together they met life head on; complementing one another’s abilities and relying on each other's strength. They weathered many storms, including raising seven children! He put family first and guided them to trust God and value education, hard work, and perseverance.
Francis was drafted into the US Army in 1954, and was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After basic training, Maryllis and their toddler, Steve, joined him. Following two years of service, Francis moved back to Woodbury and purchased the family farm. He spent the rest of his long career and life doing what he loved best - farming! He was a gifted mechanic and a steward of the land.
Francis loved polka, hymns, and some classical music. He loved big parties, especially when his machine shed was transformed into a dance hall. Music playing, his feet were moving, and a bright smile radiated across his face. His warmth, willingness to share a laugh, and sense of humor were infectious.
Challenges were overcome with faith and hard work. A farm accident resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee. Few knew the extent of his disability, even when he danced. In extreme summer storms, heavy winds tore apart farm buildings that he had built. There were years when the crops were damaged by drought or hail. He accepted such setbacks, relieved that no one was hurt.
Francis and Maryllis were charter members of Woodbury Lutheran Church. When it came to faith, his life was his testament. He was a silent servant who did not seek recognition. He was a trustee and worked to support the needs of the congregation, plowing snow, and mowing for many years. He and Pastor Paul selected the trees for the Christmas services over the years. Francis delivered and set up the trees, decorated by enthusiastic volunteers. He finished by climbing a ladder to add the star. He worked to transport the beautiful stones for the fireplace in the Fireside Room. Francis hosted hayrides, bonfires, dances, and farm gatherings for Eastern Heights, Park Avenue United Methodist, Majestic Pines Community Church, and the Woodbury Lutheran youth and Soaring Eagles.
Francis, age 88, of Woodbury, Minnesota, passed away in the early morning of October 19, 2022. Francis is survived by his wife of 69 years Maryllis. His legacy endures through his children Steven (Peggy), Bonita Oehlke (Gary), Sandra Oehlke (Bruce), Darlene Oehlke (Rick), Karen Miller (Ivan), Karla Arrigoni (Mike) and Daniel (Nancy), and his beloved 14 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
He will be long remembered for his resilient, positive, practical, and ambitious attitude, value of hard work, dedication to family, friends, and community, and devotion to God.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Visitation 5-7 PM, Sunday, October 23, 2022 at Woodbury Lutheran Church, 7380 Afton Rd, Woodbury, Minnesota 55129 and continues at 10 AM, Monday, October 24, 2022 with Memorial Service at 11 AM all at the church. Interment with military honors to follow at Cottage Grove Cemetery, Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
Donations requested to Woodbury Lutheran Church or charity of choice.