Mary Wimberly Anderson (Szlasa) Franz, 80, passed away from lung cancer on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, leaving behind a legacy as a prominent business owner, a beloved sister, wife, mother and friend. Born on March 25, 1936, and raised on Wimberly Farms in Princess Anne, Md., Franz was known locally as Mary Wimberly, daughter to the late Howard H. Anderson and Elsie B. Anderson.
Franz earned a Senatorial Scholarship to the University of Maryland, where she double-majored in English and history, graduating with honors in 1958. In 1960, she married her college sweetheart, Richard E. “Dick” Szlasa. The couple was married for 28 years.
After starting her career as a public school teacher at Bladensburg High School, Franz went on to be an agent of change as a small-business owner. In the 1970s, she created Walker Mountain Crafts clothing company, based in Deerfield, Va. Her business empowered rural women in Augusta County, Va., to earn their own livelihood.
As her husband’s success as a lacrosse coach grew, Franz put her own career aside and focused on her roles as wife and mother. Lacrosse took the growing family from Towson University (Md.) to Washington & Lee University (Lexington, Va.), then the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.) and finally to Drew University (Madison, N.J).
Franz owned the Fudge Factory of Bethany Beach, Del., from 1983 to 2001, and she moved to Bethany permanently in 1997. She was an outspoken advocate for the resort-area business community and an active member of Ocean View Presbyterian Church.
In 2003, she married Dr. Frank M. Franz Jr. In retirement, she served on the board of the South Coastal Public Library and as secretary for the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF).
Franz was preceded in death by her loving husband, Frank M. Franz Jr., in March of 2015 and her parents, Howard H. Anderson and Elsie B. Anderson. She is survived by a brother, William H. Anderson, his wife, Shirley, and their family; a sister, Elizabeth B. Anderson of Princess Anne; her three children, Stephen Szlasa and his wife, Cindy Held-Szlasa, of Ocean View, Del., Ann Szlasa-DeMonte and Michael DeMonte of Audubon, Pa., and Mary “Mikie” Sarmiento and her husband, Santiago Sarmiento, of Newark, Del.; a stepdaughter, Greta Franz, and her son, J. Ryan Sandlin, of Wilmington, N.C.; four grandchildren and the lights of her life, Nathan DeMonte, Jake DeMonte, Drew Szlasa and Hannah Sarmiento; and her first husband, Dick Szlasa, of Westminster, Md.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at 11 a.m. at Ocean View Presbyterian Church, 67 Central Ave, Ocean View, DE 19970. A private interment will be held at a later date. The family requested that donations be made in memory of Mary A. Franz to Ocean View Presbyterian Church or to the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF Scholarship Fund/Back Our Schools); P.O. Box 345; Bethany Beach, DE 19930.