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C. Jason Smith - LIC, Co-Owner
Catherine A. Smith, LAFD, Co-Owner



Gunter N. Franz, PH. D.

March 13, 1935 ~ December 13, 2018 (age 83)

Gunter N. Franz, PH.D., age 83, of Morgantown, passed away Thursday morning, December 13, 2018 in his sleep at his home, with Wanda., his loving wife of 53 years, in attendance.

He was born March 13, 1935 in Backa Palanka in the failed state of Yugoslavia. His parents, Anton and Therese Franz, were part of the German-speaking minority living along the Danube River. His parents ran a successful haberdashery shop.

When World War II began, the region was taken over by Hungary, and he learned Hungarian in his early grades, which helps explain his skill at imitating foreign languages. In early September 1944, when he was nine years old, he and his extended family left their home ahead of the Russian army. When it became clear that they would not be able to return to their occupied homeland, they escaped into Germany to be captured by the United States Army. Gunter never returned to his hometown.

He grew up in Schwetzingen near Heidelberg and graduated from the Schwetzingen High School. He received a in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1959. He became interested in applying his electrical engineering knowledge to understanding human biological functioning. In 1960, he left Germany to come to the United States to attend the University of Washington in Seattle.

He always praised the American system of advanced degrees for the huge amount of mathematical and scientific knowledge available and the accessibility of the professors. He took full advantage of what was offered and earned a doctoral degree in physiology and biophysics in 1968.

He loved ballroom dancing and attended the dances put on by the Foreign Student Club at the University. He served as President of the Club, where he met the club’s secretary, his future wife. He always maintained that American women were the best organizers and, with her help, they ran the club very efficiently. He wooed her on the dance floor and was married July 24, 1965.  He said it was the best decision of his life. She introduced him to backpacking, and together they spent weekends in the summers packing into the gorgeous Washington mountains.

Dr. Franz was hired to teach physiology at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1968. He has authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications in physiology and systems biophysics and is the co-author of the textbook Electronics for the Modern Scientist. He is an associate professor emeritus of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

He loved teaching medical students and eagerly embraced the American “open-door system” of working directly with students. It was a joy for him to share the experience of learning with his students. He helped the learning process with his many jokes and great sense of humor and received the Outstanding Teacher Award in the School of Medicine in 1996.  His students admired him and thanked him for his ability to inspire them. Dr. Franz served for 23 years as Chairman of the Academic Standards Committee. He spent a lifetime working to create good doctors, who could take care of him in his old age, which they did.

Dr. Franz’s life experiences taught him to respect the dignity of each human person. He was a member of St. John University Parish and the right to life movement. He contributed by writing extensively for speeches and publications. He loved English for its ability to express ideas clearly. He became an expert at writing in his second language. When he became a citizen in 1971, it was his fourth (and final) citizenship.

He loved to travel and take photographs. In addition to traveling through the United States with his family, he toured Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Austria. He also visited Peru and cruised around South America.

Dr. Franz is preceded in death by his parents, his brother-in-law, Hans-Dieter Schrader, and his sister-in-law, Irmgard Franz.

He is survived by his wife, Wanda Franz, Ph.D., his three children, Lt. Col. Anthony Franz, Ph.D., and his wife Theresa Franz, BSN, of Dayton, Ohio; Angela Franz Franks, Ph.D. of Boston, MA; and Erika Franz, M.A. and her wife Katie Strohl of Baltimore, MD. In addition, he has twelve grandchildren.

In Germany, his surviving family members include his three siblings, Anton Franz and his wife Marga Franz, Irene Schrader, and Helmut Franz, along with seven nieces and nephews and their six children.

Friends may join the family to honor Dr. Franz's life & legacy at Smith Funeral & Cremation Care, 108 Holland Avenue, Westover on Sunday, December 16th from 1 to 3 pm and from 6 to 8 pm. A Scriptural Wake Service will be held at 8:00 pm Sunday in the funeral home to conclude the evening visitation. On Monday, December 17th, Dr. Franz will be moved to St. John University Parish, 1481 University Ave., Morgantown where additional visitation will be held from 10 AM until the celebration of his Mass of Christian Burial at 11 AM with Reverend Father Justin Blanc as celebrant. Interment will follow in the East Oak Grove Cemetery.  Guests are invited to a luncheon in the Parish Hall following the Mass and interment.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his name to West Virginians for Life, 25 Canyon Road, Morgantown, WV, 26508.

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Donations may be made to:

West Virginians for Life
25 Canyon Rd., Morgantown WV 26508
Tel: 1-304-594-9845

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