Gregory Mathew Franzwa

From today’s Salt Lake Tribune:


Gregory Mathew Franzwa 1926 ~ 2009 Gregory Mathew Franzwa, 83, passed away from cancer at his home in Tooele, Utah, on March 29, 2009. He was born in Carroll, Iowa, on Feb. 27, 1926, to Fred W. and Mabel Henderson Franzwa. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his three children: Theodore C. Francois, Hemet, Calif; Christian N. Franzwa, Lynnwood, Wash; and Patrice A. Smith, Bailey, N.C. He also leaves two brothers, Sterling “Rusty,” Glidden, and Frederick A., Rochester, N.Y. His stepmother, Jane Franzwa, lives in Tucson, Arizona. He became a professional musician while a sophomore in Glidden High School, playing trumpet with local dance bands. He joined the U.S. Navy’s V-5 flight training program while awaiting graduation in May 1943, and was called to active duty on October 5, 1943. He was released to inactive duty in August 1946, as a Lt. (JG), in the United States Naval Reserve. Mr. Franzwa attended Iowa State College from September 1946 to May 1947; and the State University of Iowa from February 1948 until receiving a bachelor of journalism degree in August 1950. He moved to St. Louis, MO, in October 1950, and opened his firm, Gregory M. Franzwa Public Relations in 1955, a firm which remained in business until his move to Tucson, Ariz., in 1991. He founded the highly successful Tiger Rag Forever Jazz Band in the early 1960s, and the 1926 Jazz Band, an all-star group, also in St. Louis, in the late 1970s. He joined the Old Pueblo Jazz Band in Tucson and remained its leader until moving to Tooele, Utah in 2005. His first book, “The Old Cathedral”, was published by the St. Louis Archdiocese in 1965. His second, “The Story of Old Ste. Genevieve”, was the first to bear the imprimatur of his firm, The Patrice Press, in 1967. “The Oregon Trail Revisited”, first published in 1967, established Mr. Franzwa’s reputation as a premiere scholar of the history of the covered wagon emigration to the American West. The Patrice Press continued to publish Mr. Franzwa’s works, as well as that of many other scholars. In 1996 the author began his state-by-state series of hardcover books on the Lincoln Highway. The six states west of the Mississippi River are now in print with his 21st book, “The Lincoln Highway: Illinois”, in process. He was the principal founder of the Oregon-California Trails Association in 1982, a group dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the historic road. 10 years later, in October 1992, he founded the current Lincoln Highway Association, with the same purpose. He married his soulmate, Kathleen A. Colyer on Dec. 23, 2000, after a storybook romance centered on the Oregon Trail. His remains were cremated and scattered over the Oregon Trail. At his request, there will be no services.

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3 Responses to “Gregory Mathew Franzwa”

  1. Mary C. Gift Says:

    I first met Gregory Franzwa in 1994 when he was researching our historic Shady Oaks Campground and the Big Treehouse for the first of in a series of Lincoln Hwy state-to-state guidebooks. Franzwa presented an autographed copy of “The Lincoln Highway Iowa” to me on June 8, 1995. It is a treasured book.

    In 1996 I self-published my first book entitled “Quarter-Mile Link, History and Reflections of Shady Oaks and Rock Valley.” I was delighted that it met with Gregory’s approval. On October 16, 1996, he wrote, “Your book came and I spent the whole day reading it. It was worth it …. sheer enjoyment. Congratulations for a job well done. Now you can bask in literary glory in the shade of the Treehouse.”

    Gregory Franzwa’s last presentation in Marshaltown was at Iowa Valley, June 10, 2006, when he took his entire audience on twenty-one year old Alice Ramsey’s drive from New York to San Francisco in 1909. We, the audience, joined three other companions in Alice’s green Maxwell, on this epic transcontinental journey without roadmaps, etc. Needless to say, Franzwa captured the hearts and minds of the entire group in attendance.

  2. Rick Sebak’s Blog » #1. Getting the Gregory Says:

    […] established in honor of one of the leaders of this organization who died earlier this year.  Gregory Franzwa was one of the organizers and instigators who got the new Lincoln Highway Association started in […]

  3. Debra Zeller Says:

    He will most certainly be missed, most of all by his loving wife, Kathy.



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