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Valley Public Radio Remembers Host Franz Weinschenk, 1925-2018

Jun 7, 2018

Longtime Valley Public Radio host Franz Weinschenk died last week at age 92. From 1992 through 2016 he hosted the popular program Valley Writers Read on Valley Public Radio. The program featured short stories from local writers, both professionals and amateurs, and showcased the valley’s rich literary traditions.

“Franz had an amazing spirit about him,” said Joe Moore, Interim President of Valley Public Radio. “He had so much energy and passion about what he did, and in the case of our program, about local writers. He and our production manager Don Weaver built a close relationship with many hours in the studio recording the programs and going over scripts, reading stories and making edits. Franz was an inspiration to all of us,” said Moore.  

While Valley Writers Read stopped production in 2016, archived editions of the program can still be found on KVPR.org.

His family provided this obituary:

Franz Weinschenk, 92, of Fresno, Calif., died at 5 a.m. Friday, June 1, 2018, at Hinds Hospice, Fresno, Calif. He was born Sept. 7, 1925, to Jacob and Hedwig Weinschenk in Mainz, Germany. Escaping the persecution of Jews by the Nazi government, Mr. Weinschenk, along with his family, which included a brother, Fritz, immigrated to the United States in 1936, settling in Brooklyn, N.Y. He and his parents moved to Madera, Calif., in 1939.

Mr. Weinschenk graduated from Madera High School and earned three degrees from California State University, Fresno. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Korean War. He was a teacher for six decades. Between 1948 and 1952, he taught at Edison High School, and after his military service, began a long career at Fresno City College. He worked as a full-time employee at the college between 1954 and 1980, teaching classes in English, journalism and speech, but also serving as the college’s first dean of a newly created Humanities Dept. for 12 years. Mr. Weinschenk was the first advisor to the college yearbook, the first president of the college’s Academic Senate, first debate coach and first president of the college’s teacher’s union, Local 1533 American Federation of Teachers. He was the first faculty member ever to be appointed in California to a college accreditation team. He served as director of the Volunteer Bureau of Fresno County from 1980 to 1988. Afterwards, he continued to teach at Fresno City College as an adjunct instructor through 2008.

Mr. Weinschenk received recognition for his volunteerism. Hands On Central California named him Senior Volunteer of the Year in 2012 and the following year President Barack Obama presented him with the President’s Service Award. He competed in countless athletic contests, including marathons and triathlon events. Two years ago, he was the first 90-year-old to complete the Gateway Triathlon in Merced. He was the host of a Valley Public Radio show, “Valley Writers Read,” that broadcast stories written by San Joaquin Valley authors from 1992 through 2016.  He was an author himself, writing a novel, a profile of Edison High School graduates from the 1950’s and many short stories, some collected in a volume published in 2017 by Evening Street Press, “What Now?”

He married Beryl Brace in 1952 and the couple had three children, Peter, Edgar, Wi., Peggy, Fresno, Calif., and Tom, San Luis Obispo, Calif. They survive, as do five grandchildren, Guthrie, Maisie, Devin, Kendra and Ethan. Mr. Weinschenk remarried in 1978 to Sally Rosenbluth. She survives. A memorial service has been planned for Saturday, June 23, 11AM, at the Fresno City College old Administration Building Auditorium, 1101 E. University Ave., Fresno.