Our Genealogy - Person Sheet
Our Genealogy - Person Sheet
NameWolfgang Egon Franke , Grandfather, M
Birth14 Apr 1915, Horstmar (near Dortmund), Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Death13 Nov 2007, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationTeacher, High School Principal, College President
EducationHebbelschule (Hebbel High School), Kiel; Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt; B.A., Univ. of Toronto, 1953; Teaching Certificate from O.C.E. in Toronto 1954; M.Sc. in Genetics, Univ. of Ottawa, 1961
ReligionEvangelisch (Lutheran)
FatherCarl Bruno Franke , M (1877-1953)
MotherCaroline (Lina) Weber , F (1895-1940)
Birth22 Mar 1915, Dresden, Germany8
Deathca 2005
Occupationtaught eurythmics and dance
ReligionEvangelisch (Lutheran)
Marriage20 Feb 1943, Charlottenburg (Berlin), Germany
2(Private) , Grandmother
FatherAntonino (Antonio) Valenti , M (1893-1956)
MotherAnna Maria Carmela Di Paola , F (1906-1988)
Notes for Wolfgang Egon Franke
His parents named him Wolfgang after Goethe. Two godmothers listed on his baptismal record: Mrs. Ida Liese (his aunt) and Mrs. Lina Leubeiher (relationship unknown). At the time of his and his sister’s births, they were living in Horstmar with his grandmother while his father was stationed in Kiel during WW1.
The community of Horstmar, just northeast of Dortmund, was absorbed into Lünen in 1928 and is now known as Lünen-Horstmar, one of the 9 quarters within Lünen. After 1975, Lünen was integrated into Kreis (County) Unna.
When he was still very young, the family moved to Kiel where he grew up at the Baltic Sea.
Graduated from Hebbel high school in 1934. A book on the 100 year history of “Hebbelschule” lists him amongst the graduating classes and also on page 64 refers to his German novel “Immer Voran” which is based on his life at that time.25
Studied in a Teacher’s College in Kiel to become qualified to teach elementary school.
Elementary school teacher in Duisberg, near Dortmund, Germany. Joined the Navy and took Navy courses in Flensburg in radio and communications during the holidays from teaching.
Spent four years of hardship in a Yugoslavian prisoner of war camp after the War.
Studied Biology at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main upon his return home.
He came to Canada in 1951 with his first family on the “Neptunia” from Bremerhaven, Bremen to Halifax and then by train to Toronto where he got a job as an illustrator in the Botany department of Univ. of Toronto.
The accordian in the family was given to Wolfgang by his father Bruno at the ship upon departure from Germany with his first family.
Bachelor of Arts from University of Toronto, M. Sc. from Ottawa University. Worked first as a high school teacher. Then completed the Principal’s course and was high school principal in Morrisburg, Carleton Place and Essex.
Pioneered the Community College system in Ontario as the founding President of Lambton College in Sarnia in 1966. He also was founding President of the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, B.C. in 1968.
Obituaries notes for Wolfgang Egon Franke
From ‘The Globe and Mail’ and the ‘Toronto Star’ on Nov 15, 2007:
“Wolfgang E. Franke, BA MSc, Educator and Writer 1915-2007
Peacefully at home of natural causes on November 13, at the age of 92.
With a lifetime spanning a remarkable time in history for Europe and Canada, he was born in Lünen-Horstmar, Germany on April 14, 1915 during the First World War, and grew up on the Baltic Sea in the city of Kiel during the years of the German Revolution of 1918 and the hyper-inflation of the 1920’s. His early education was in Kiel where he sold his first short story to the Kieler Zeitung at the age of fifteen. After teaching elementary school in Duisburg in the Rhineland, he served in the Navy and by the end of the war was a Lieutenant Commander, in charge of radio communications in Trieste, Italy. After the war he survived four years of hardship in a concentration camp in former communist Yugoslavia, living proof of his oft quoted adage from Nietzsche “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. Upon his return to Germany in 1949 he resumed his doctoral studies in biology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, but decided to emigrate with his first family to Canada in 1951.
Part of a large wave of immigrants willing to work hard at any job available, his first employment was as an illustrator in the Botany department of the University of Toronto. He obtained his BA at the U of T, and later an MSc in genetics at the University of Ottawa, and worked for a period in plant pathology prior to his career as an inspiring teacher of Biology. He became principal in high schools in Morrisburg and then in Essex where he established an innovative co-op “Occupations Program” in 1963, which liaised between education and industry, providing high school students with valuable work experience.
In 1966 he pioneered in Ontario’s fledgling community college system when he became founding president of Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology in Sarnia. There he developed an innovative curriculum, hired faculty and interviewed students. Similarly, he was then founding president of the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, B.C in 1969. Toward the end of his career he was founding principal of a private high school in Toronto.
A naturally talented amateur sculptor, artist and musician, he passionately promoted the Arts in all his educational endeavours.
In retirement from formal education, he returned to his love of writing, producing numerous stories and essays published in many newspapers and periodicals, as well as nine novels in English and German.
Always a man of conviction, he held himself and others to a high personal standard. A tireless social critic in his writings, he was nevertheless totally committed to his adopted country and recalled the glow of pride upon the induction of the Canadian flag in 1965.
His description of the character Hans in his fifth novel, Over the Threshold, can be aptly applied to the author: “…a Jack of all trades, a biologist by training, but with a technical bent, a portraitist with leanings to the caricature, a teacher and perpetual student, a music lover and dreamer.”
He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Rose (née Valenti), also a teacher, who tirelessly dedicated herself to his publishing efforts and provided devoted personal care in his final years. He was also very proud of daughter Sylvia (Andrew), sons Dean (Susan) and Norman (Carolyn), grandchildren Laura, Xavier, Dix, Egan, Natalie and Nina, and from a previous marriage his daughter Regina and son Ingo. Predeceased by his sister Lotti.
Interment will be at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. The family will welcome relatives and friends to a private reception at a future date.”

From The Observer, Sarnia Nov 20, 2007:
“Lambton College founder passes away
The Observer
A former Sarnian who survived four years in a concentration camp before carving out a successful career as an educator and writer has died.
Wolfgang Franke, the founding president of Lambton College, died in his Toronto home Nov. 13 at the age of 92.
Born in Germany during the First World War, Franke was an eyewitness to some of the most tumultuous events in human history.
Growing up in the city of Kiel, he survived the runaway inflation that crippled the German economy in the 1920s before becoming a writer.
He sold his first short story to a local newspaper at age 15 and never looked back. Over the course of his life he penned nine novels and sold scores of articles to newspapers and magazines.
During the Second War War he served in the German Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
When the fighting stopped he was tossed in a communist concentration camp in Yugoslavia. But Franke survived that experience and was set free in 1949. He went to university in Frankfurt, then emigrated to Canada, working as an illustrator for the University of Toronto’s botany department.
After graduating from U of T and the University of Ottawa, he served as a high school principal in Essex County before accepting the challenge of getting Lambton College off the ground.
“He was here from 1966 to 1969,” college spokesperson Cindy Buchanan said. “He was our first president. The major impact he had on Lambton was building the infrastructure, developing curriculum and hiring faculty.”
An amateur sculptor and artist who also dabbled in music, Franke had a reputation as an educator who supported the arts.
Former college teacher Elisabeth van Stam said Franke backed her in a successful bid to get Lambton’s early childhood education program up and running. She was one of three people who approached him about the idea, but he only spoke to her about it because he approved of her being a non-smoker, she recalled.
Franke went on to become the founding president of New Caledonia College in British Columbia.
He is survived by his wife, Rose, three children and six grandchildren.”

From the Prince George Citizen, Nov 17, 2007:
“CNC founder dies
(News) Saturday, 17 November 2007, 02:00 PST
Citizen staff

The flag flew at half mast Friday at the College of New Caledonia to honour the memory of its founding president.
Wolfgang E. Franke died Nov. 13 at his home in Toronto. He was 92.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Rose, daughter Sylvia, sons Dean and Norman, and from a previous marriage, his daughter Regina and son Ingo.
In his youth, Mr. Franke served as a Lieutenant Commander in the German navy and survived four years in a concentration camp.
He obtained a BA at the University of Toronto, and an MSc in genetics at the University of Ottawa, then began a career as a biology teacher, during which he served as principal in two high schools. Continuing his distinguished academic career, he served as founding president of both Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology in Sarnia and the College of New Caledonia.”

From The Essex Free Press, Wed., November 21, 2007:
“Former EDHS principal dies
By Bill Gay
W. E. Franke, principal at Essex District High School in the mid-sixties, was an unforgettable personality.
A Lieutenant Commander in the German Navy during the Second World War, Franke spent four subsequent years in a prisoner of war camp. Afterwards, he emigrated to Canada and earned degrees at the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa. Even though he had the stiff demeanor that could be ascribed to a German naval officer, he was very respected by the teaching staff, and the students found him very fair to deal with. I know because I was one of them.
His vision of Essex High was to make it a testament to excellence in all facets of student endeavour. An early advocate against smoking, Franke was fond of saying that the average smoker’s daily cost for cigarettes (in 1963 about 40 cents a pack), if applied to our schools, would be the difference between a vigorous education policy in Ontario and stagnation.
He instituted a dress code that did not allow jeans, and he frowned on makeup for high school girls. His favourite quotation was from a German philosopher who said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
After leaving Essex he became principal at North Essex (Belle River) and, later, the founding president of Lambton College in Sarnia. In recent years he wrote novels in both German and English.
W. E. Franke died November 13 in Toronto at 92. He is survived by his wife Rose, who taught Latin at EDHS during the years her husband was principal.”
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