Frances Therese Skemp (née Perry), 88, passed away peacefully from this world to enter joyfully into the next on April 12, 2017, just in time to celebrate the Easter Triduum in heaven.
Fran was born to Theodore and Frances Perry on March 14, 1929, in Chicago. She went to St. Felicitas Elementary School and graduated from Loretto Academy High School, president of her senior class. Fran studied at the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn., before graduating from St. Xavier College in Chicago with a degree in chemistry. She worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she analyzed gas compounds using a Mass Spectrometer, one of only two in the country at the time.
In 1952 she married Robert Skemp and thus began the great love story of their life together. Leaving behind one kind of chemistry for another, she went on to have 10 children over the next 13 years and was never happier than when she was holding a baby. Her family was the great joy of her life and she created a loving, happy home for her children. She sent them out the door to play and watched them from the kitchen window with a prayer on her lips. Her children were uplifted by her prayers throughout their lives. Fran and Bob enjoyed many trips abroad during their life together, including a trip around the world on the Concorde in 1995. In later years they enjoyed taking cruises and meeting up with family in Arizona in winter.
Even while raising ten children, Fran filled up her days with service to the community. As a member of the St. Francis Auxiliary, she would take photos of newborns for the mothers at Gerard Hall, home for single mothers, where she volunteered for a cause she felt very strongly about.
She was an active Girl Scout both in her youth and as an adult. She volunteered as a troop leader for eight years before serving a term as vice president of the Riverland Council. She took over the helm as president from 1975 to 1978. Fran always felt that her greatest contribution to girl scouting was developing the leadership to best support Riverland Council and Camp Ehawee for future generations. She was very proud of the work she did to enhance the experience for girls at Camp Ehawee. A cabin was dedicated in her honor in 2007. In 1977, Fran was awarded the Thanks Badge, the highest award given to an adult Girl Scout volunteer. In 2001, she and Bob were honored with the Riverland Council “Girl Scout of Distinction” award. Never one to favor her daughters, she also volunteered as a Cub Scout den leader. She and Bob were honored by the Gateway Area Boy Scout Council with a Lifetime Achievement award in 2015.
Fran served on the board of Bethany St. Joseph Nursing Home, including time as board president, and was a member of the Franciscan Skemp Foundation board.
In her ministries at Blessed Sacrament Parish she served as president of the women’s club, director of the funeral choir, and coordinator for the school hot lunch program for 15 years.
Her faith centered her life and Fran looked forward to meeting Jesus after a 15-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Anticipating the moment, she said that when she got to heaven she would run up to Jesus and “kiss him on the nose.” We have no doubt that she is at peace and enjoying His company.
Fran leaves behind her adoring husband Robert and ten children: Tom (Janine), Fran Sauer (Greg), Eileen “Eenie” Francksen (Carl), Bob (Jean), Carol Steingraeber (Mark), Kathy Uehling (John), Helen Roop (Kevin), and Ted (Jessica), all of La Crosse; Joan Binder (Bill) of Western Springs, IL; and Mary (Mark Pitsch) of Madison, WI. She is also survived by 31 grandchildren: Dylan and Meredyth (Bobby Cupp) Skemp; Elizabeth, Anneliese Morrow (Rob), Mike, and Krissy Sauer, Eric (Crystal), Paul , Philip (Janelle), and Joe Francksen; Stephanie and Bobby Skemp; Carleigh and Camille Ristow; Heidi and Sonia Binder; Bob (Caitlyn), Mark, Sam, and Emily Steingraeber; Robert and Ted Uehling; James, Mary, Erin, Clare, and Connor Roop; Cecilia and Thomas Skemp; and Henry and Sophie Pitsch; four great-grandchildren; along with her sister, Davida Hand, and brother, Nick Perry, and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Jack Perry, and grandson, John Roman Uehling.
The family would like to thank the staff at Golden Living Center in La Crescent for the compassionate care and attention they gave to our mother.
A funeral Mass will be held at 11:30 AM Monday, April 17, 2017, in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 130 Losey Blvd. So., La Crosse, Wis. Rev. Peter Raj and Msgr. Bernard Mc Garty will concelebrate with burial to be held in the Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse, Wis. Family and friends may visit from 9:30 AM until the time of Mass in the church on Monday.
Memorials can be sent to the Aquinas Foundation.