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Riewerts Memorial Home
Friday September 10th, 2021
3:00pm - 7:00pm

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Riewerts Memorial Home
Saturday September 11th, 2021
10:00am - 11:00am

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Funeral Service

Riewerts Memorial Home
Saturday September 11th, 2021

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South Church Cemetery
Saturday September 11th, 2021

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Richard H. Francke

Richard H. Francke, 79, of Bergenfield passed away on September 1, 2021. He was an English Teacher at Leonia High School for 47 yrs. and head of the debate team. Beloved brother of John and his wife Ann and the late Mark Francke. Dear brother in law of Patricia Francke. Loving uncle of Jennifer Tremper, Christian, Jeffrey, Jonathan and the late Michael Francke. Visiting at Riewerts Memorial Home, 187 So. Washington Ave., Bergenfield on Friday from 3-7 PM and Saturday from 10-11 AM. Funeral service at the funeral home on Saturday at 11 AM. Interment South Church Cemetery, Bergenfield. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Mr. Francke gave me first and only F grade in school...something that I richly deserved and I thank him for that...I exerted zero effort in his class and he gave me the grade that was appropriate...it was a wakeup call for me in life...I vowed that would never happen again and it didn't...anything that I was involved in after that I strove to do my best and to be the best...I was still attending college in my 40's at John Jay in NYC and had a 4.0 GPA largely because that F grade was still in my mind...I have told my son that story as well...he is a junior at Clemson and on the dean's list...it has resonated with him also..Thanks Mr. Francke for doing the right thing back when.
Al Gonzales
Class of '75 LHS

Al Gonzales Sep 23 2021 10:59 AM

The GOAT of English teachers

RD Sep 17 2021 5:58 AM


Edythe Sep 9 2021 8:17 PM

So so sorry to hear this. He was my favorite teacher and a great mentor to me. He took the time to work with me to develop my creative side and was one of my biggest supporters. He influenced me in so many ways, especially through his unique sense of humor. He was special and will stay with me always. Rest peacefully sir.

Wendy Malloy LHS Class of 78 Sep 7 2021 8:14 PM

He was a lovely man with a rare wit. Eleven years years after finishing his class I still have many fond memories of him and his lessons.

Ethan Johnson Sep 6 2021 11:14 PM

Mr. Francke was a larger than life personality. With a flair of drama, he would instill a Machiavellian fear one second, tease and provoke his students in the next second, and have them doubling over from laughter in the grand finale of his delivery. I remember clearly; one day in class he had me cracking up from the sheer hilarity and awkwardness of the teacher-student dynamic, for a good ten minutes. He invoked a nonsensical and ongoing giggle-fit from me, and became just as entertained as I was - turning beet-red from the contagion of laughter! I felt as if my cheeks would explode that day. That was one of my best memories of my entire schooling career.

A member of the graduating class of 2008, I sat in the back right corner of his class as he called out students for doodling or dozing off - never without the kind of sense of humor that confirmed his underlying - and razor sharp - intuition of the real world. Mr. Francke was just that - frank. What you saw is always what you got. I remember the last time I visited him at LHS, he was beyond gracious, hospitable, and of course witty - he had this unseen way of always making his students (or former-students-turned-adults-who-still-feel-like-students) feel as if he was leveling with them. I can only hope to one day do the same with my own students, and pass on that bigger lesson of humanity and insight.

He invited me into the English office the last time I visited, had me sit down and parked himself (he really loved leaning casually against tables rather than actually sitting in chairs) for nearly two hours just talking about it (life) straight; with an unyielding and sometimes unnerving clarity. He was so engaging. He was that fresh breath of REAL, that students so rarely ever get. He was in some ways, the unicorn teacher (ironically, I remember learning about the unicorn tapestries because of him)! I have a deep respect and love for his passion and commitment to his students, for what he did for me as I was coming of age.

A collection of some of my fondest memories of him; I remember the Mr. Francke who would always talk about his nephew who, I believe, played an instrument (the trombone perhaps). I remember the Mr. Francke I had as a freshman who scared the living daylights out of me as I sat by the window. I remember the Mr. Francke I had as a senior who was a real riot. I remember the Mr. Francke who was my proud debate coach. I remember a Mr. Francke who scoffed at a conversation I had with a friend during debate practice, and told me that pursuing a profession because one's parents wanted them to is not enough; he always pushed for student autonomy. I remember a very patient (and slightly disgruntled) Mr. Francke who waited over ten minutes as I ran late, flying into his classroom, to present and hopefully pass the senior project I did with him ( as he may have been, he was sweet on the inside; I passed). I remember a very elated Mr. Francke the first time I visited him after graduating (talking about comics, politics and life), and finally, I remember the engaging and disarmingly charming Mr. Francke, from the last time I visited him.

Allow me to express my deep condolences for his loved ones, and please know that his students did, continue to and will always love and cherish Mr. Francke as their dear teacher and mentor-friend who had a powerful presence and command in the space he occupied, who possessed a unique flair in personality that made his teaching all the more impactful, and who was always unapologetically himself (in my opinion the biggest lesson he delivered for us without us even realizing it at the time; this turned out to be the very lesson he continued to deliver to me even as an adult, and the very one I'm sure he continued to deliver to others). His lessons live on. Thank you, Mr. Francke.

Nothing but love and prayers to his family and loved ones.

Sincerest condolences,

Puneet Anand

Puneet Anand Sep 5 2021 10:42 AM

When I was a new debate coach, Richard was always there to lend a hand or offer advice. No one knew the rules better. No one worked harder to make our Debate League an extraordinary educational opportunity for students. I will always appreciate his support as a debate coach and while serving as League president.
My favorite debate Francke-ism was when a particularly high score would come in on a ballot, "33-32!?! What was that, Lincoln versus Douglas?"
Richard was a true gentleman, a scholar and an all around good guy. He will be missed.

Bill Carr, Debate Adviser, Becton RHS Sep 5 2021 8:30 AM

Mr. Francke was a legend at Leonia High School. My deepest condolences are with his family. Thank you, Mr., Francke, for being one of the best teacher I have ever known. Rest In Peace.

Noreen Courtney Wilds Sep 4 2021 10:29 PM

Mr. Francke was one of the most influential teachers I have had over the course of my school career. He taught me how to write and speak meaningfully (as I also had the pleasure of being coached by him on the debate team). He introduced me to some of my favorite and greatest novels of all time. And I consistently felt motivated by his high expectations of me (and all his students). Mr. Francke was a simple, private man who hated being the center of attention. I hope he knows his teachings were wide-reaching, and went far beyond the classroom. The Leonia community will miss you, Mr. Francke. Sincerely, Ms. Mahler.

Teresa Mahler (Class of 2013) Sep 4 2021 9:47 PM

You will be missed; your legacy will live on forever. We all still talk about you, decades later. You were absolutely the VIP teacher @ LHS. May your memory be a blessing.

Former LHS student Sep 4 2021 9:13 PM

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