Cover photo for Frances L. Heidenreich's Obituary
Frances L. Heidenreich Profile Photo
1941 Frances 2023

Frances L. Heidenreich

December 21, 1941 — December 22, 2023

Frances Lucille Heidenreich passed away on December 22, 2023. Born on December 21, 1941, and raised in Chicago in the south-side community of Roseland, she was the first of three daughters born to James and Carmella LeRose.

Life in the LeRose household revolved around the Italian American family, extended family and all of the activities that went along with that: baptisms, birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals, most of which involved a mass and then a big noisy party in someone’s finished basement or in a hall with loud music.

She attended St. Louis Academy in Roseland and graduated in 1959 with the last class to graduate from the academy before it was torn down. She was an excellent student throughout her life, a member of the Honor Society in high school and graduate of St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana in 1963 with a degree in Elementary Education.

Fran was an avid reader, life-long learner, talented cook, and a generous host to anyone who visited. She often invited college girlfriends home for weekends where her mother would serve large Italian meals, her father might serve a small glass of wine, and everyone would sit around the dining table, eating and laughing for hours. She was beloved by all who knew her, as a witty, intelligent, kind, and gentle person.

Near the end of her senior year at St. Mary’s, Fran met the love of her life, Gary, a muscular shotputter and aerospace engineer who could pick up all three LeRose girls at the same time, whenever they wanted! She went on to teach in South Bend and she and Gary were married on December 26, 1964 at St. Anthony Church in Roseland by Gary’s uncle, Father Francis Heidenreich, OFM Cap, using all of the beautiful Christmas decorations.

Fran is survived by her husband of nearly 59 years, Gary; son Gerald, daughter-in-law Eva-Maria Barthel and granddaughter Maria-Sophie; son James, daughter-in-law Andi and grandsons Alex, Luke, and Zach; daughter Rachel Vecchio; son Canon Peter Heidenreich; and sister Judith Leahy. Fran is predeceased by her parents and sister Therese Olsen.

Fran worked many jobs along with being a mother, such as bank teller, restaurant hostess, and accountant in Gary’s Milwaukee businesses Gala Tool and Die and Paramount Industries.

Fran and Gary have been residents of Rockford and parishioners at St. Rita Catholic Church since 1986. Fran served the St. Rita parish in numerous capacities, mass lector, Eucharistic minister, and homebound minister. She served the Rockford community as an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, spiritual work which she greatly loved.

Fran also really enjoyed sports. Although she grew up on the southside of Chicago, she was an avid Cubs fan. A typical Fall weekend involved watching a Notre Dame football game on Saturday and the Bears on Sunday.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, December 30, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Rita Catholic Church, 6254 Valley Knoll Road, Rockford, IL 61109. There will be a visitation prior to Mass starting at 10:00 a.m. Immediately after Mass, there will be a funeral procession to Calvary Catholic Cemetery for burial. To send online condolences or share memories, please visit

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, December 30, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, December 30, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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