Mary Ann Franch

January 15th, 1933June 2nd, 2021

Mary Ann Franch, of Lafayette, Colorado, peacefully passed away on June 2, 2021. She was 88 years old.

Mary Ann was born in a coal camp in Gebo, Wyoming on January 15, 1933, the second child of August and Enrica Franch, both of whom had been raised in Cloz, Italy, located in the mountainous Trentino region. Her brother, Robert, was 5 years older. 

In 1939, the mine in Gebo closed and the Franch family moved to Colorado, eventually settling in Lafayette. As a child, Mary Ann loved roller skating from one end of town to the other!

Mary Ann graduated from Lafayette High School in 1951 and attended St. Mary’s College (Indiana) on scholarship where she met her dear life-long friend Marshall McGarrity. Illness forced her to leave after two years. She finished college at CU Boulder, where she decided that the best way she could make a difference in the world was to teach. 

She taught fourth grade for 37 years in Aurora Public Schools with her best friend Helen Burnett. She was asked on many occasions to become an administrator, and she did fill in many times in that capacity, but she remained convinced that her place was in the classroom. She loved to read to her students and particularly liked that, as she read a book to them, they gradually crept closer and closer to her until they surrounded her.

Her brother Robert became a doctor and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Mary Ann was a caring aunt, introducing Robert’s seven children to the joys of reading, soft serve ice cream, Colorado, and family history. She was also a supportive sister-in-law to Robert’s wife Dina.

Motivated by her father’s experiences as a miner, Mary Ann advocated for miners whose applications for black lung benefits languished and for workers who were exposed to harmful chemicals at the Rocky Flats Weapons Plant.  

One of the most important life decisions for Maryann was to take care of her parents as they aged. She spent weekends with her parents, cooking and cleaning for them for the week ahead, coordinating care, watching baseball games, praying the Rosary, and of course, making sure all visitors were well fed. Any spare bits of time were given to neighbors who needed their hair washed or other chores done. She often repeated that she had absolutely no regrets for the time she spent caring for her parents, something done not from an expected duty, but from the deep love of a daughter. 

Maryann was a lifelong learner. She enjoyed exploring the mountain peaks in Colorado where she loved to hike. With her brother Robert and friend Helen, she travelled to Cloz, Italy and the beloved Trentino region; they also attended reunions of Trentino-Americans all over the United States. A constant reader, she belonged to book clubs where she relished the discussions. She enjoyed watching sporting events on TV and sharing a meal and long conversations with friends. She collected Hummel figurines (given to her by friend Helen), and had an extensive collection curated over many years. She studied Native American history and culture, and had a fascinating collection of Pueblo Indian storytellers. 

Mary Ann drew strength from her faith in God and from the Catholic community at Immaculate Conception Church (originally St. Ida’s). 

Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Dr. Robert Franch. She is survived by her seven nieces and nephews.

Over the course of her life, and especially recently, she had the help of many friends: neighbors Alice and Bob Joyet and Leslie, Bill and Emma Pomeroy; longtime friends, Marilyn and Jordan Messersmith, Laurie Simmons, and Diane Marino; communion bringer Bonnie LeJueune; parishioners and friends Sally Martinez, Lois Beasley and Margie Fontenot who picked her up for church; Steve and Margaret Davis, Bev and Gary Nelson who always kept in touch with her, Helen’s sister Lois who made sure Maryann was included in family holidays. The Franch family is forever grateful to Laurie Simmons for caring for Mary Ann for over 10 years. Mary Ann loved Laurie like a daughter. Laurie is truly an honorary “Franch.”

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mary Ann’s memory may be made to: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church: and the Lafayette Historical Society:


A Recitation of the Rosary will be held on Monday, June 14th at 11am at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The funeral mass will follow, beginning at 11:30. Mary Ann will be laid to rest at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery in a private ceremony.


Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery | Map




Immaculate Conception Catholic Church | Map