James S. Franzen

December 15, 2021


James Franzen of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died at home on December 15, 2021, surrounded by his family. He was 87. James was born on January 13, 1934 to parents Eric and Hulda Franzen in Chicago, Illinois. As a freshman at Wheaton College, he wanted to play football, but a chance conversation with a chaplain led him to love God instead. He loved God while earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wheaton and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois, and for the rest of his life. On August 19, 1961 he commenced loving his wife, Barbara Carver, and, in succession, his children Elizabeth, Nathan, Ruth, Abigail, and Sarah. He taught biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh from 1961 until his retirement in 2001. He taught freshman biology, mentored graduate students, worked in the laboratory, and published research on mitochondrial and chloroplast self-splicing introns. Every night, he came home for dinner, and when it was over, he always did the dishes. James wrote poems. He composed stories and songs and was a talented artist. He taught children’s Sunday School and volunteered at after school programs. He visited the sick and those in prison; he helped his children with their science projects and took them on camping trips. When his grandchildren were born, he did it all over again. For his whole life, James loved deeply, and at his death, he is deeply loved. He is survived by his wife Barbara; children Elizabeth Franzen, Nathan (Mary) Franzen, Ruth (Ned) Rust, Abigail (Andrew) Franzen-Sheehan, and Sarah Franzen; Grandchildren Lucia Byron, August Franzen, Bartholomew Rust, Anneka Rust, Eamon Sheehan, and Emmet Sheehan. Friends will be received at John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. ( 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street on Sunday from 1-4p.m. Funeral Monday in The Church of the Ascension at 10a.m. Interment will be private.

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December 19, 2021

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc.
4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Funeral Service
December 20, 2021

10:00 AM
Church of the Ascension
4729 Ellsworth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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