2021 Distinguished Midland Family Award: The Suhr/Francis Family

2021 Distinguished Midland Family Award: The Suhr/Francis Family

Monday, September 13, 2021

Suhr-Francis FamilyIt started with Marvin Suhr’s graduation in 1944 and culminated with Xandy Krueger’s 2019 graduation. In between has been 75 years of memories for the Suhr and Francis families at Midland University. The two families are being honored with the 2021 Distinguished Midland Family award during a ceremony Sept. 19 at the Fremont Golf Club. 

“We’ve been fortunate to develop relationships with people at Midland that are more than just institutional relationships,” Paul Suhr ‘68, said. “The people at Midland have always been very welcoming to us.”

Marvin, Paul’s father, arrived at Midland in the early 1940s from Tilden, Nebraska. After graduating from Midland in 1944, he attended Central Seminary in Fremont and began his career as a Lutheran minister. He eventually left the ministry and worked many years as a clinical psychologist. Marvin, who was married to Virginia (Pedersen) for 75 years, passed away in September of 2020. “Midland was a great fit for dad because it was close to home and my mom was from Fremont,” Paul said.

Paul would be the first of the four sons in his family to attend Midland, arriving in 1964. He would graduate in 1968 and during his time at Midland, he would meet his future wife, Donna Jedlicka. “We had a really good time at Midland and greatly enjoyed our four years here,” Donna said. “I came from Schuyler, which was only 30 miles away, but I was still homesick. I needed the feeling I got at Midland when I was away from home.”

Paul would have three younger brothers follow in his path to Midland. Gene and Doug each attended Midland for two years while his youngest brother, Joel, graduated from Midland in 1976. “Joel played basketball here so we were back here a lot watching his games.”

When Joel and his wife, Mary, moved back to the Fremont area in 2009, they became regulars at events across the Midland campus, often joined by Paul and Donna, and cousin Wayne. With his 6-foot-7 frame, Joel was a very recognizable presence around campus and quickly became a strong Midland supporter, attending alumni events, taking in Arts performances, and cheering on several Warriors athletic teams. When Joel passed away unexpectedly in 2018, a perpetual scholarship was established by the family in Joel’s name. Nearly 40 members of the Suhr and Francis families, many of them Midland alumni, were present the night the first Joel T. Suhr scholarship was presented in October of 2019. The Joel T. Suhr memorial scholarship night continues and has become an occasion for the Suhr/Francis families to gather at Midland annually to remember and honor Joel, as well as other family members connected to Midland who have since passed away, including Marvin Suhr ‘44 and Nate Metschke ‘02.

When Virginia Suhr’s sister, Irene, married Raymond Francis, a new generation of Midland students would come to be. Raymond and Irene had three daughters (Brenda Krueger, Janet Francis, and Gloria Breithaupt) who would graduate from Dana College, a son (Wayne), and a future daughter-in-law (Sharon Petersen), who would graduate from Midland in 1978. Brenda’s husband, Sieg Krueger, would later teach at Dana. Their granddaughter, Xandy Krueger, graduated from Midland in 2019.

Sharon and Wayne Francis’s three children all attended Midland, including sons Jeremy and Tim, and daughter, Katie

Jeremy Francis ‘03, met his future wife, Jill (Weiner) Francis ‘01 at Midland, when they both worked off campus at the same store at the local mall. Younger brother Tim Francis ‘04 also was also enrolled at Midland at that time, with sister Katie Francis ‘09 just a few years behind him.

During the time that the Francis brothers were on campus, their cousin, Darcy Breithaupt Metschke ‘04, daughter of Gloria Peterson Breithaupt, was also attending Midland, as was Darcy’s future husband Nate Metschke ‘02. 

“Like many people, I met a lot of my best friends at Midland and still hang out with them to this day, so I am forever grateful for that. Some of my favorite memories took place on the band and choir tours, where I traveled to so many great places with some of my greatest friends,” says Tim Francis.

The Francis family also had a close connection to Dana College, with the three Peterson sisters graduating from the Blair school and Seig working as a professor. When Dana closed in 2010, many of their current students made their way to Midland and Tim is grateful his family can still have a connection to Dana through Midland. “I know my aunt and uncle enjoyed coming to Midland activities,” Tim said. “As sad as it was to see Dana close, it was good that those students had an option close by with similar values and education that those students could turn to.”

As owner and operator of D&T Shirtified in Fremont, Tim says he continues to maintain a strong relationship with Midland. “We do apparel printing for many of the sports and different organizations at Midland and we really appreciate the loyalty for supporting local, small businesses,” he said. “My wife and I, as well as other members of our family, enjoy coming to basketball games and many other Midland activities.”

Both families agree their bond has strengthened through their connection to Midland. Donna said the emotions they felt going to Midland more than 50 years ago remain with them today. “I’ve always loved the feeling I get being around Midland,” she said. “It’s made me feel comfortable and feel like I’m at home.”