Dr. Phyllis J. Franzek, 65, of Los Angeles, passed away Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, after a short illness. Born in Lewiston, she was the daughter of the late Raymond and Eugenia (Deskiewicz) Franzek.
Franzek was raised in Lewiston and graduated from St. Peter R.C. School and Lewiston-Porter Central High School. She began her teaching career at St. Peter R.C. School in Lewiston.
Franzek further pursued her interests in English studies, earning two MA degrees, one each from the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California. She later achieved a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California. Franzek was employed as a professor for many years at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, writing program, active there until the time of her death.
Her many research interests and publication topics included: Niagara Falls as an iconic force in the national imaginary and American literature; Native American Tuscaroran art and mythology; and Islamic influence on contemporary American poetry. She served as an English professor at Dogus University in Istanbul, Turkey, from 2004-06.
Franzek was loved and respected by her students at each academic institution at which she taught, earning her top reviews from her students.
Franzek was the fourth of six children and grew up as part of a large and raucous group of siblings and extended family. She was very bright and intellectual and would often quote many authors and poets, confounding the rest of the family.
As her mother, (Jean) was the church organist at St. Peter's Church in Lewiston, she was conscripted early to be part of the church choir, to sing and turn the music pages for many and varied church services. She had a wonderful musical ability, and keen sensitivity for literature, arts and letters.
Franzek also loved nature and the outdoors and spent several summers working in Yellowstone National Park as well as a year in Alaska pursuing various adventures. She also worked at Artpark in its early years.
Phyllis is survived by sisters Sandra Switzer Rueter of Lewiston and Patricia A. Walton of Sebring, Florida; and by brothers Ronald R. Franzek of Youngstown, Michael J. (Mary) Franzek of Tierra Verde, Florida, and Peter (Janet) Franzek of St. Petersburg, Florida. Franzek is also survived by aunts Delores (Leonard) Zabrocki of Geneseo and Adeline (late Frank) Noon of Amherst; and by several nieces, nephews and many cousins. She was predeceased by her brothers-in-law, Edward Switzer and William Rueter of Lewiston, and uncles Col. Theodore (late Bobbie) Franzek and Clement (late Pauline) Deskiewicz.
A memorial service is planned for a later date. Visit www.hardisonfuneralhomes.com for online condolences.