Obituary for Franklin Zabell

Franklin Frederick Zabell, 69, of Watertown, died believing in Jesus, the world's Savior, and was called to his home in heaven during the early morning hours of Monday, Aug. 11, 2008.

Franklin was born in Pigeon, Mich., on Aug. 24, 1938, son of Frederick and Emma (Einhardt) Zabell, and was born again in the waters of Holy Baptism on Sept. 7, 1938. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith on April 27, 1952.

He met his wife, Bethel Kell, while standing in the registration line at Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn. The two were married on June 17, 1962, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Watertown, S.D., and were blessed with 46 years of marriage.

From his childhood days on the farm, Franklin took an interest in music, and he spent most of his adult life directing choirs and playing the organ for services in church. Before graduating from college, he served as tutor at Northwestern Lutheran Academy in Mobridge, S.D. Upon graduation he was called to serve as principal and teacher first at Grace Lutheran in Benton Harbor, Mich., and then at Gethsemane Lutheran in Milwaukee. In 1972 he accepted the call to teach music and direct choir at Northwestern Preparatory School (now known as Luther Preparatory School), where he served until his retirement in 1995. While there, he founded and directed a traveling choir of select students called the Prep Singers. He also founded and directed a local Lutheran adult choral group called the Vesper Singers, who presented concerts of Christian music in Watertown for a number of years.

During his time in Watertown he directed church choirs at Immanuel Lutheran in Farmington and Trinity Lutheran in Watertown, and was an organist at both churches. He also served for a time as district worship coordinator for the Western Wisconsin District of the Wisconsin Synod.

Among those who survive him are his wife, Bethel; two daughters and sons-in-law, Amy and Hans Zietlow of Onalaska and Bethel and the Rev. Daniel Balge of New Ulm, Minn.; one son and daughter-in-law, the Rev. Jon and Julie Zabell of Green Bay; grandchildren, Sarah and Scott Zietlow, Lydia, Martha, Philip, Thomas and John Balge, Eric, Isaiah, Jacob, and Margaret Zabell; three sisters, Katherine (the Rev. Rolfe) Westendorf of Dalton, Marilyn Zabell of Bay City, Mich., and Susan (Henry) Hammerbacher of Freeland, Mich.; one brother-in-law, James (Mary Gail) Kell of Versailles, Ky.; and many other friends, relatives and loved ones.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother.

A service of Christian funeral will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Watertown with the Rev. Paul Buchan preaching and the Rev. Brett Bauer presiding.

Relatives and friends may call to pay their respects at the Hafemeister Funeral Home, 611 E. Main St., Watertown, on Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m., and at the church on Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated to Trinity Lutheran Church of Watertown and Luther Preparatory School in Watertown.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Hafemeister Funeral Home 611 E. Main St. Watertown