Edward Joseph France Jr. was born at Lakeside Hospital in Pine City on May 17, 1941, the only child of Edward J. France Sr. and Rosalie C. (Ambroz) France. Ed grew up on the France Family Farm northwest of Pine City in a neighborhood full of kids ready to play a pickup game of ball or swing on a rope in the haymow. Ed attended grade school and graduated from Pine City High School in 1959. After graduation, he joined the Army National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1963.
While in high school, he met the love of his life, Annette (Nettie) Phaller, at a Sandstone vs. Pine City basketball game. The couple dated for five years. Before marriage, Ed took instruction and Confirmed his faith in the Catholic Church. The loving couple married on Oct. 27, 1962, at St. Willibrouds Catholic Church in Sandstone. He remained a faithful member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pine City for the remainder of his life. From this loving union, four children were born: Julie, Sheryl, Michelle and Joe. The family farmed together for four years before packing up and moving to Las Vegas. There they owned a successful brake and alignment shop. After a couple of years, the family returned to Pine City, built a new home, and Ed spent his days working as an electrician in the metro area. He never lost his love for the farm and in 1970 he bought a herd of cows and continued dairying until he sold out in 1997. They continued on as crop farmers. It was then that Ed returned to his electrical work.
Ed was a true role model of a great family man to several generations. He and Nettie were about to celebrate 57 years of marriage. Seven of those years were spent caring for his father. He was a proud son, father, grandfather of six and great-grandfather of five. His playful heart drew the affection of all the kids. They lovingly named him “Big Poppa.”
After selling the cattle, Ed and Nettie found their home away from home in Apache Junction, Arizona at Countryside RV Park. They spent 21 winters together enjoying the sunshine, constant activity and the company of their amazing friends. He put his handyman skills to work helping out in the park wherever and whenever he could. They especially enjoyed being Countryside’s hiking leaders. They covered a lot of territory in the Superstition Mountains. Once they were done hiking, they took to the ATV trails on their side-by-side and continued to enjoy the beautiful scenery the desert has to offer.
Ed had a zest for life that kept him busy! He loved going to antique tractor shows and showing off his 1934 John Deere D that his grandfather purchased new. He and Nettie traveled with their RV from coast to coast and enjoyed many camping trips with Joe and his family. Being an early riser, Ed thoroughly enjoyed his morning coffee buddies. There wasn’t a problem they couldn’t solve or an answer that Google couldn’t help them find! He was more than willing to share the importance of a clean windshield and a how to score a good bargain to anyone willing to listen.
Ed passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, at the family farm in the loving arms of his wife. He thoroughly enjoyed how his family and friends surrounded him in love the last days of his earthly life. Ed led a full life and finished well.
He is survived by his wife Annette (Nettie) of Pine City; children Julie (Brad) Samuelson of Pine City, Sheryl (Jeffrey) Mack of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Michelle (Fred) Reinoehl of Pine City and Joe (Annie) France of Sandstone; grandchildren Benjamin (Kate) and Anthony (Amanda) Samuelson, Jasper and Makia Reinoehl, Katelyn and Jacob France; great-grandchildren Carter, Harper, Avery, Anna and Amelia Samuelson; a host of extended family and friends.
Ed is preceded in death by his parents Edward Sr. and Rosalie France.
Monsignor Aleksander Suchan celebrated a Memorial Mass for Ed Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pine City. The interment will take place at a later date in Birchwood Cemetery of Pine City.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to: Funeral and Cremation Service of Pine City, Swanson Chapel. www.FuneralAndCremationService.com