BELLINGHAM, Wash. – During the early morning of Christmas Day, June Fransen MacKenzie peacefully went to heaven after battling Parkinson’s disease since 2003.
June was born in Sterling to Edwin and Mabelle Fransen, and was the second oldest of nine children. Early on in her life, it was evident she had an amazing musical talent; blessed with a beautiful soprano, operatic voice. Throughout her life, she performed as lead soloist in countless musical productions and operas. June’s voice was mesmerizing and surprising to all; that such a big, strong, beautiful voice came out of such a tiny body. June’s repertoire includes lead female roles in operettas (Pirates of Penzance, Trial by Jury, The Mikado, Patience, Ruddigore, H.M.S. Pinafore, Iolanthe, Yeoman of the Guard, New Moon, The Desert Song, and The Music Man); soloist in Handel’s Messiah; opera performances (Cosi Fan Tutti, La Boheme, Pagliacci, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Carmen); and other professional solo appearances (Illinois Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Seattle Opera Preview), and many benefits, recitals and symphony soloist performances. June received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, all while raising her two daughters. While working full time at Western Washington University as supervisor in the music library, she taught voice lessons. She also was the soloist for Christian Science Church in Mount Vernon, Wash.
In 2007, after 30 years, June retired from WWU. She enjoyed traveling with her husband of 46 years and spending time with her family. Mom loved her family so much. She was blessed with three grandchildren whom she adored. She was able to knit beautiful sweaters and blankets for all of them and sew pretty dresses for her granddaughter. She also painted beautiful porcelain dolls. Parkinson’s really took hold in 2010, when her family had to make the hard decision to move her to Merrill Gardens in Bellingham, Wash., where she could receive the best care possible; which is where she lived until moving onto heaven.
Left behind to lovingly carry on her memory are her husband, Steve; daughter, Pam (husband James) Taft and their children, Taryn and Ryker; daughter, Paula (fiancé Robert Martin) MacKenzie and her son, Cole; sisters, Shirley (Ken) DeWeese of Findlay, Ohio, Bonnie (Fred) Davis of Clayton, Ind., Karen (Ken) Wennekamp of Hubbard, Iowa, and Eileen Fransen of Dallas; brothers, Buddy Fransen of Byron and Kendall Fransen of Rock Falls; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her father in 1992; her mother in 2003; and her brothers David in 1973, and Wendall in 2011.
We will miss Mom so much, but do find comfort knowing that she is singing in heaven, and we will see her again.
A tribute celebrating her life was Tuesday at Lairmont Manor in Bellingham.
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