Bill Franz, R.I.P.

Bill and Jane Franz chat with Donna Kurtz.

Bill and Jane Franz chat with Donna Kurtz.

Long-time attorney William Franz has passed away.

Besides practicing law, Franz developed real estate, turning land that others could not visualize using into commercial use and the upscale subdivision of Wedgewood.

Franz ran for Congress on the North Side of Chicago, seeking Democrat Sidney Yates seat, before he moved back to Crystal Lake, where he grew up.

When I knocked on his and his wife Jane’s door two years ago, he talked a bit about that campaign.

He said that some people were really friendly, inviting him in to talk, offering him food.

It took him a while to figure out that these were usually active Democrats, trying to keep him from campaigning.

After moving the Crystal Lake, Franz was elected a Precinct Committeeman and served as Algonquin Township Attorney.

He was serving as an appointed Committeeman in his home precinct when he died.

McHenry County State’s Attorney had this to say about Franz:

“Bill was one of my first and strongest supporter and remained that way.

“He gave me great insight into the background of all the politicians in the county.

“When we would get together for lunch, from time to time, I was always amazed how much information he had about everyone in the county.”

His obituary follows:

William “Bill” Franz, an attorney whose 54-year career coincided with Crystal Lake’s tremendous post-war growth, died Sunday, April 12, 2015 in Chicago of complications from lymphoma.

Lending playful humor to dry legal proceedings, he played a leading role in Crystal Lake’s residential and commercial development.

He often served as a public advocate, as when his firm contested in court and won a judgment in the 1980s against a proposed new landfill in McHenry County by a large company with a checkered environmental record. He touched the lives of many throughout the community, in public and private, large and small ways.

He was born in Dayton, Ohio on December 3, 1930. Two years later, at the height of the Great Depression, his family moved to Crystal Lake.

He suffered through a succession of serious diseases as a child and, like many of the time, grew up in difficult economic circumstances. For some time, he and his brothers slept in homemade bunks on the outside porch of his family’s small house. Looking back on those days, he recalled it was pretty difficult to get out of the warm bed on cold winter mornings.

He graduated from Crystal Lake Community High School in 1948 and was his senior class president.

He attended the University of Michigan where he competed on the swim team for two years before service in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War interrupted his studies.

During his military service, he learned to speak Russian and later obtained a commission as a second lieutenant before being discharged at the war’s end.

Having worked constantly throughout his lifetime, holding a succession of 53 different jobs before he turned 30, he completed Chicago Kent Law School in 1959 and embarked on his 54th job, his law career.

He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers, and one sister.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jane Franz; two sisters, Bonnie Franz Ogden and Sandy Franz Reynolds; four children, David Franz, Julie McConnell, Liz Franz, and Sue Soden; seven grandchildren, Katherine and Alex Franz of Arlington, VA, Emma and Isabel Soden of Crystal Lake, and Lucia, Carly, and Paige McConnell of Kenilworth, IL.

The memorial visitation will be 4-8 p.m., Thursday, April 16, at Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave. (Route 176), Crystal Lake.

There will also be a memorial visitation Friday, April 17, from 10 a.m. until the time of memorial service at 11 a.m., at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, 461 Pierson St., Crystal Lake, IL 60014. Inurnment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests any memorials be made to the First Congregational Church or the charity of your choice.


Bill Franz, R.I.P. — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve seen that technique before, Democrats invite Republican candidate in to talk to eat up his/her campaign time.

  2. Sounds like a heck of a guy! Rest in Peace. Prayers for his family and friends.

  3. Mr. Franz was a wonderful man. He loved to play golf and one day back in 1988 Mr. Franz and I played together on a foursome team.

    He teed off on a par four hole and the ball landed nice and straight on the fairway lined up perfectly with the hole. Keep in mind,this was a par four.

    Mr. Franz lined up his shot and nailed that par four straight into the hole!!! I have never to this day, seen a shot like that, it was incredible to witness. Mr. Franz jumped up and down like a little kid when he hit his par four in just two shots.

    What was more incredible to witness was the fact that I was lucky enough to have been in the presence of such a wonderful, smart man.

    He was a class act! I pray for his family for their loss.

  4. He truly was a class act.

    He certainly knew mcHenry County and every lawyer in it.

    More then once he provided my with invaluable insight, but more then that it was fun to talk to him.

    I’ll miss him just as I miss Jim Franz and think of regularly

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