He was born April 25, 1945 in Missoula to Walter A. Franke and Mary (Cox) Franke.
Walt attended school in Thompson Falls, he enjoyed playing basketball and track where he set many records before graduating from Thompson Falls High School in 1963. Afterwards, he joined the Navy and was stationed at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard as a dental technician where he earned his nick name 'Doc'.
While in California, Walter married his first wife, Dianne Swanson. Their son David was born in Vallejo and after moving to Los Angeles, they adopted a daughter Kristen. After the Navy, he went to work for the Los Angeles Zoo, where he worked in the Reptile House. He continued his love of reptiles and animals throughout his life. The pull of Thompson Falls proved to be too great so he moved his family back to the area he loved along with a carload of pet snakes
Walt went to work for the Mill and later for the State of Montana Highway Department where he retired after 30 years, although he never gave up "checking his roads” at least twice daily.
Walt was known for his exceptional fishing and hunting skills and was always on the lookout for mushrooms and antlers to make belt buckles, cribbage boards and whatever else came to mind. He was an avid reader and a huge Montana Grizzly fan and enjoyed playing horseshoes whenever he could. Walt loved the outdoors and took delight in sharing it with his family and friends.
In 1994, Walt and Kay Jenkins met and were married in 1995. Kay resides at the family home in Thompson Falls.
Walt was preceded in death by his father, Walter A. Franke; mother, Mary (Cox Franke) White; stepfather, Raymond White; brother, Vernon Franke; and sister, Martha (Franke) White.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Kay (Jenkins) Franke; son, David (Lori) and granddaughters Breanna and Caitlyn Franke all of Kalispell; stepson, Matt Jenkins of Post Falls, Idaho; brother, Ernest (Mary) Franke; sister, Verna (Randy) Shermikas; stepbrothers, John and Bob White all of Thompson Falls, his beloved nieces and nephews with their families and his lifelong best friend, Dennis (Lisa) Koker and sons along with the close friends he went to school and worked with over the years.
A celebration of life potluck picnic will be held in Walt's memory July 26, 2014 at Finely Flats for family and friends.