Esther V. Fransen

September 22, 1923 ~ November 20, 2022

Esther V. (Pitz) Fransen, 99, of La Crosse died on Sunday, November 20, 2022, at Hillview Health Care Center. She was born in La Crosse on September 22, 1923, to William and Mary (Bogner) Pitz, one of five children. Esther married her soulmate, Arnold A. ‘Chuck” Fransen, on September 1, 1948. Their favorite love song was “Sentimental Journey” and that song symbolized their love-filled and fun-filled marriage of more than 54 years.

Esther spent her entire life on the southside of La Crosse, with almost all of it lived in the seven-square block area bounded by 13th and 20th Streets and Adam and Farnam Streets. She attended Saint Wenceslaus grade school and graduated from Aquinas High School in 1941. She was a woman of deep faith and a devoted member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church for more than 65 years.

Esther’s family, neighbors, and friends are saddened by her death but also grateful that her long life enabled her to personally pass down her legacy, and that of Arnie and her siblings and in-laws, to all whom she met, especially her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. That legacy taught us that a simple life, filled with faith, love, humility, generosity and, of course, good food, can be an extraordinary life. She and her siblings all lived into their eighties and nineties and all attributed their longevity to the countless laughs and good times they shared with each other and their families.

Esther and her sisters were amazing cooks and bakers, skills learned from their mother and grandmother. Everything had to be made from scratch. Esther’s specialty was the “Esther slice”, a piece of her homemade pie or cake that was big enough for three but which she insisted had to be eaten by the person she gave it to (and always was). They also made sure that there was plenty of good food and drink at all family gatherings, especially birthdays and graduations, trips on the Mississippi on the family pontoon, and picnics at Houska Park.

Esther so loved her four granddaughters, Samantha, Beth, Katie, and Ellen, and their families. She was extremely proud of their educational accomplishments, their careers, and their travels all over the world. She loved to share time with them and listen to the stories of all the places they had been. She was also delighted to have been able to meet and spend time with their children, whom she simply adored.

Esther is survived by her sons, Jim (Margie) of Arlington, Va. and Dave (Janice) of La Crosse; four granddaughters, Samantha (Justin) Holohan, Beth (Geoff) Gallinger, Katie (Zach) Fransen, and Ellen (Rafael) Barbosa; four great-grandsons, Jack and Matt Holohan, David Gallinger, and Connor Fransen. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.

Esther was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Arnold, in 2002; grandson, Ron; sisters Irene (Gerald) Hoskins, Ruth (Sylvester) Fuchsteiner, and Patricia (Daniel) Crowley; brother Raymond “Bud” (Joyce) Pitz; and in-laws Julius and Catherine Fransen and their children George Fransen, Fred (Clara) Fransen, Mary “Mame” (Leo) Wurzel, Peter (Mildred) Fransen, Joseph Fransen, John Fransen, and Loretta (Albert) Hegenbarth.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in La Crosse. Rev. Rick Roberts will officiate. Entombment will follow in the Saint Francis of Assisi Mausoleum, Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Wednesday evening at Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services La Crosse chapel; 200 West Ave. So. from 5 until 7 P.M. and again at the church on Thursday morning from 9:30 A.M. until the time of Mass.

The family would like to thank the staff at Hillview Terrace, especially Bonnie, for their loving care of Esther these past 2 years, the staff at Hillview Health Care Center for their kindness and compassion during Esther’s final days, her neighbors Maureen Grenisen and Lyle Montgomery for the kindness they showed her, and her nieces and nephews, especially Sue and Dennis Hansen, Mary Trussoni and Tom and Deb Crowley, for the love and care they showed her these last 2 years.

In lieu of flowers, Esther’s family would respectfully ask that you honor Esther’s legacy by sharing a smile and warm greeting, and maybe even a piece of chocolate, with everyone you meet. Donations can be made in her name to Holy Trinity Catholic Church or any charity of your choosing.