The community of Parkwood paid their last respects to long-standing community leader and pastor Edward Franke earlier this month.
Described as a man with a golden heart and “true warrior for God”, Mr Francke, 81, died last month of kidney failure and diabetes-related complications. He was buried on Sunday February 7. The service was held at the Parkwood restoration centre, formerly known as the Assemblies of God Church in Wattle Road Parkwood, which he established more than 50 years ago.
Mr Francke and his wife Julia Francke, 83, who were married for 57 years, lived together in Heathfield for most of their lives but moved to Saldanha Bay three years ago to be closer to their family. They would drive out to church every Sunday morning until churches were closed as a result of Covid-19 regulations.
Ms Francke said her husband was a very humble man who would go out of his way to help anyone in need. He served on the Grassy Park Community Police Forum(CPF), was the chairperson of the Parkwood health committee and was an avid gardener and had a bug garden at their home in Saldanha Bay.
“He was an outreach and community man and he felt it was his duty to serve people who live in poverty in whichever way he could. He would give his last and labour and pray for them – that was his heartbeat to see to the poor. ”
Mr Francke and his wife pioneered their outreach work to be more concentrated in Parkwood in 1969 where they saw a great need. They started with tent campaigns and eventually they built the church in Wattle Road with the help of the community.
Over the years the church has been a safe haven for the destitute and those searching for spirituality. The couple along with members of the congregation and help from companies and individuals would feed not only those in Parkwood but Lotus River, Ottery and other communities.
“My husband loved the community of Parkwood and we as a family will continue his legacy and we hope the community can also carry on the legacy he left behind. We will continue to support the community of Parkwood.
The couple celebrated their 57th anniversary on Monday January 11 and five days later – on Saturday January 16 – Mr Francke died.
“For 57 years we were still on honeymoon and we still loved each other very much and even slept holding hands. It was my pleasure to serve him. We did everything together and I already miss him so much. He was a truthful to his calling, a loyal husband, a devoted father and a great grandad. ”
Pastor Paul Phillips who worked closely with Mr Francke said he was a big voice for the community of Parkwood: “Because he had a desire, a passion and zeal not only for the people of the church but also for the community, those who were marginalised, those who were in need of services. He was worried about the conditions the people of Parkwood lived in. He was also vocal about the housing issue and stood up, spoke up and made a stance against the marginalisation of our people.
“He was bold, outspoken and non religious when it comes to service delivery. He embraced us as a leadership, our interfaith brotherhood and common goals. Streets flats and parks must be named after such leaders of value, bravery and caliber who serve as role models and moral compasses for our youth,” said Mr Phillips.
Ivor Damons, the son-in-law of Mr Francke is now the presiding pastor at the church.
Mr Francke is survived by his five daughters, son-in-law, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.