Cover photo for Sarah Ellen Franke-Heitzenrater's Obituary

Sarah Ellen Franke-Heitzenrater

d. August 2, 2023

Sarah Ellen Franke-Heitzenrater

Sarah, 76, of Erie, PA, passed away peacefully on August 2, 2023 after enduring many challenging months at LECOM Senior Living Center. Sarah suffered from Alzheimer's disease for many years. Her condition was exacerbated by a stroke leading to numerous complications. Sarah was born on June 4, 1947, one of four daughters to Jean A. (Adams) and Robert H. Franke. She was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Janice (Myers) of Denver, Colorado.

Sarah was a 1965 graduate of McDowell High School. Her many faceted career included positions at Lighthouse Arms & Machine Company, Riley Stoker Corp, James H. Cross Company, Carlisle's Department Store and as assistant buyer in the women's department at the Boston Store in downtown Erie. Her professional résumé includes many years as a Licensed Realtor with the Jane Theuerkauf, Kay Sauers, and Howard Hanna agencies. Sarah completed her working career in 2014 after ten years of employment at the T.J. Maxx Company.

Sarah was a sweet, happy soul, somewhat shy but always very pleasant. She greeted everyone with a smile and specifically made a point to complement anyone she encountered by highlighting something positive about them. She loved music and would often break out in song when with a group of friends. Erie history was an important interest of hers but secondary to her quest for family history spending hours combing over gravesites and headstones.

Sarah has been a member of the Erie Yacht Club for over 46 years serving as the chair of the Club Auxiliary in 2012. The members and staff there came to be a friendly welcoming enormous family for her. Sarah was also fortunate to have the opportunity to be responsible for establishing the very successful Thursday Night Trivia Game there which operated for 10 years.

Sarah is survived by her husband of 50 years, David L. Heitzenrater and her sisters, Martha (Frankie) Blodgett of Erie and Roberta (Bert) Franke of Pittsburgh plus many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association ( or the Erie Yacht Club Foundation (

We gratefully thank all of the caregivers at the LECOM Senior Living Center and the Millcreek Hospital Wound Clinic who comforted Sarah until the very end.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the John R. Orlando Funeral Home, Inc., 2122 Raspberry Street, Erie, PA. Viewing is scheduled for Monday, August 7, 2023 beginning at 3 PM until the time of the Funeral Service there at 6 p.m. There will be a Celebration of Life reception at the Erie Yacht Club, 1 Ravine Drive, immediately following the service.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sarah Ellen Franke-Heitzenrater, please visit our flower store.


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