Hoffman Estates drowning victim remembered as a selfless hero
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A Hoffman Estates man who drowned at a Wisconsin marina over the weekend is being described as a selfless, caring person by family members who say he saved another man from drowning eight years ago.
Police say Richard Franzese, 58, was recovered from the water at ReefPoint Marina in Racine, Wis., Sunday after the Racine County Sheriff's Office responded to a request for a welfare check at the location.
An investigation is ongoing, but police say it appears to be an accidental drowning.
Jim Franzese said his younger brother was taking his boat out of the marina Saturday night to store it for the winter season. It appears the cuff on his brother's jeans got caught on a part of the dock, causing him to fall and hit his head, likely knocking him unconscious before he fell into the water, he said.
Franzese was alone at the time of the accident and, considering the time of day it occurred, no one was around to discover his body until the next day, his brother said.
"It was a real shame. Nobody had a chance to say goodbye to him," Jim Franzese said, adding that he lost another brother in a snowmobiling accident.
The family is taking comfort, however, in the fact that Franzese was doing what he loved.
"He was the first boat in and the last boat out (of the marina)," Jim Franzese said. His younger brother had been going up to Racine every summer for the past six to eight years to spend time with friends.
"Boating was really his big thing," said his only child, Danielle Franzese of Arlington Heights. "He went up there pretty much every weekend, from April 1 to the end of October."
Franzese worked with Jim at Franz Office Products, a family-run business in Arlington Heights that was started by their grandfather in 1928.
According to a news article archived by the city of Racine, Franzese was honored with a Citizen Lifesaving Award for diving into the Root River near downtown Racine in August 2005 to save a Chicago man from drowning. Although the man resisted, Franzese kept the man's head and face out of the water until rescue crews arrived.
"He was always looking out for other people and just trying to help others out," said Danielle Franzese, who went with her father to receive the award and remembered being very happy for him.
Besides boating, Franzese enjoyed playing cards, shooting and riding his motorcycle. Besides his daughter and Jim Franzese, he is survived by his parents, five sisters and five other brothers.
Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 149 W. Main St. (Lake-Cook Road) in Barrington. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at St. Anne Catholic Church, 120 N. Ela St., Barrington, where there will be visitation from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass.
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