Death of Dr. Walter Royden (Topper) Franke, Jr.
The Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries announces the death of former missionary, Dr. Walter Royden (Topper) Franke, Jr., on Sunday, July 5, 2009. Topper and his wife, Bernice (Beezy) were missionaries to the Congo (Zaire) from 1966-1969 where Topper served as a pilot.
“There is a small village located in the middle of a swamp, south of Lotumbe, which decided they wanted an airstrip for its many advantages. So with machetes, shovels, and hoes they, many of whom had never seen an airplane, carved an airstrip out of thick jungle in six months.” Topper wrote this about the village of Imenga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where, for two years, he was the pilot of the Cessna 185 that carried mission personnel and supplies around the Congo. He flew more than 50,000 miles over the forests and swamps which gave him many opportunities to see the work of the church and to meet the people of the Congo.
Topper received his B.D. and D.M. degrees from Brite Divinity School and served the church in many capacities. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, three grandchildren, and four brothers. Services will be held July 10, 2009, at the First Christian Church, Galax, Virginia.
Condolences may be directed to Mrs. Bernice Topper, 421 Homeplace Drive, Salem, Virginia 24153-7158. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Lynchburg College (where Topper served as the Vice President of External Affairs), 1501 Lakeside Drive, Lynchburg, Virginia 24501; First Christian Church of Salem, 712 Front Avenue, Salem, Virginia 24153; First Christian Church of Galax, 402 North Jefferson Street, Galax, Virginia 24333; Floyd & Lola Landreth Scholarship Fund of the Galax Excellence in Education, 200 Maroon Drive, Galax, Virginia 24333; The First Tee of Roanoke Valley, 3707 Densmore Road NW, Roanoke, Virginia 24017; and/or Brite Divinity School of TCU, TCU Box 298130, Fort Worth, Texas 76129.