A large contingency of family, friends and community members gathered last Friday to say goodbye to a man who has been an intregal part of the Broken Bow community for more than four decades. Jim Franssen was laid to rest at the Broken Bow Cemetery Friday morning. He died Jan. 29 in Lincoln.
Also on hand to pay their final respects, were many members of the Broken Bow Volunteer Fire Department - the department Jim himself was devoted to for many years. In 2011, Jim was honored for 45 years of service to the fire department. He also served for several years as an E.M.T. in Broken Bow.
Jim was born March 18, 1940, in Andale, Kan., to Herman Franssen and Marcella Goetz-Franssen. He moved with his family to Callaway in 1947, where he grew up. He graduated from Callaway High School in 1958.
After high school, Jim moved to Broken Bow where he met the love of his life, Sharon Marie Stewart. They were married July 5, 1965, and have two daughters - Suzanne and Jennifer.
Jim opened his own business, Jim Franssen Welding in 1974. Jim and Sharon also owned and operated the Tiffany Theater in Broken Bow for 10 years.
Besides being a dedicated member of the fire department, Jim also was a member of the JayCee's and the Optimist Club in the 70's and 80's, and the Nebraska Welders Association.
Jim was always willing to serve his community, and did so both as a member of the City Council and as Mayor of Broken Bow. He was currently serving on the Broken Bow City Council at the time of his death.
After retiring in 2000, he dedicated his time to his lifelong passion of restoring cars. He was a member of the Custer County Car Club and served on the SORC Board.
He was also an active member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“There wasn't anywhere that Jim went that he didn't make friends and strike up a conversation,” his wife, Sharon, recalled.
That was evident by the large crowd Friday. In one final act with the fire department, a last call for Franssen was issued by the dispatcher shortly before noon.
However, before that last call was issued several of the firemen had to dash from the cemetery when a call was made for mutual aid to assist the Ansley department with a structure fire. Ironically, it almost seemed a fitting tribute for a man who dedicated his life to the service of others.