Natalie Franz Hewlett

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004

Former Juneau resident Natalie Franz Hewlett, 97, died Aug. 13, 2004, at the Sitka Pioneers Home.

She was born May 27, 1907, to Joseph and Natalia (Wahlstrum) Franz. She grew up in Stockbridge, Mass., and later received her nurses training at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. She married Arthur Thomas Hewlett in 1930 and they made their home, with their daughter, Anna, in Hewlett, Long Island, N.Y.

During World War II, she trained nurse's aides for the Red Cross. Encouraged by friends who served as missionaries in Alaska, and inspired after hearing Episcopal Bishop Peter Rowe speak of his experience, the Hewletts decided to move to Alaska in the late 1940s. They settled first in Anchorage, later moving to Homer where her nursing skills were invaluable. She delivered many babies. Her husband started the first Bank of Homer in their basement, and customers often had to walk through the family laundry drying on the line to do business. Her husband died in 1953, and she eventually sold the bank and returned to Anchorage, where she worked for the Chamber of Commerce. She later moved to Juneau and served as an administrative assistant in the state Division of Travel and Tourism. She also served as an administrator for the Head Start program and traveled the state by boat, bush plane and even dogsled. She returned to Stockbridge, Mass., in the mid 1960s to be closer to family. She was curator and guide for the Mission House, built by the first missionary to the Stockbridge Indians. In the early 1980s, at age 76, she returned to Alaska and accepted an offer to serve as a personal aide to then Gov. Bill Sheffield. Retiring five years later, she stayed in Juneau, working as a volunteer for the Friends of the Library, the Alaska State Museum and several other organizations. She moved to the Sitka Pioneers Home in 1998, and quickly got involved volunteering at the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Her family said she loved to travel and visit with people. Her hobbies included knitting, reading mysteries, gourmet cooking and playing bridge. She was a lifelong member of and devoted to the Episcopal Church.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; a brother, Russell Franz; and stepmother, Emilia Franz.

She is survived by her daughter, Anna Hewlett James of Toledo, Ohio; granddaughters, Ceri Paul of Mason, Ohio, and Mimi Ehlen of Toledo, Ohio; great-grandchildren, Arthur and Harry Paul and Eliza Ehlen; sisters, Joanna Humphrey of New York, and Shirley Miller of Stockbridge, Mass.; brother, Peter Franz of Cheshire, Mass.; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. A reception will follow at the Sitka Pioneers Home.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church of the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

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