PRINCETON — Vida Frances Ahrens, 97, of Princeton passed away Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, at Manor Court in Princeton.
Lovingly referred to as Fran her entire life, she was born on June 16, 1922, in Eldorado, Okla., to the late James and Mary (Havron) Vollentine. She started her career as a telephone operator, then became a line worker at Westclox in Peru for 32 years, retiring in 1981 at the closing of the company.
She met and married the late Merlyn R. Ahrens on Sept. 4, 1964, at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Peru. A chance meeting, Merlyn had gone to a local dance club in Spring Valley with a few co-workers after working all day at Jostens. He saw Fran and asked her for a dance. People would say it was love at first sight, but it was after he tasted her pot roast that he fell madly in love with Fran. They were happily married for over 50 years.
She was a member of the ladies baseball league, women’s bowling league, card club, secret pal club, Perry Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Club and St. Matthews Lutheran Church, as well as the women’s Auxiliary Club at St. Matthews Lutheran Church.
Fran loved to play games and was a champion domino player with her family and friends. She enjoyed playing cards and board games as well. She was an amazing baker and cook. She had a cookbook collection to rival any library. She had such a zest for life. She enjoyed her family gatherings and babies. She always wanted to hold them and kiss and love on them. One of her favorite pictures is one of baby Ben with kisses all over his face. She and Merlyn loved to travel all over the United States. She wasn’t a big sports fan, but Merlyn was and as long as they were together, she was happy to go along. Fran had a love for animals, her dog Mattie, a companion for life. Mattie almost turned into a service dog after Merlyn’s passing, never leaving Fran’s side. Fran loved life and she loved her family, and brought a light into everyone’s life.
She is survived by one son, Orby Morell of Key West, Fla.; one daughter, Dorothy Cioni of Ottawa; one daughter-in-law, Fela Morell of Peru; three grandchildren, Bryan (Cindy) Cioni, Christina (Joe) Bolelli and Nancy (Scott) Kmetz; and five great-grandchildren, Vincent, Sarah, Megan, Rebecca and Caitlyn.
Fran was preceded in death by her parents, James and Mary Vollentine; her husband, Merlyn R. Ahrens, on April 22, 2015; two sons, John Morell and William Morell; five brothers, Junior Vollentine, Woodrow Vollentine, Cleo Vollentine, Orby Vollentine and J.D. Vollentine; and six sisters, Dorothy Lee, Opal Gorman, Eva Martin, Vertie May Sanders, Cleta Bray and Mary Ellen Schmedeke.
A visitation for Fran will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 17, at the Norberg Memorial Home in Princeton. Services will follow at 11 a.m. at the funeral home with Pastor Scott Schmidt officiating. A separate graveside service will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Oakwood Cemetery in Ottawa.
Online condolences may be left at www.norbergfh.com.