Fran Kay (Schwaiger) Weiss


Fran Weiss was born in Cullman, Ala., on July 8, 1957, daughter of the late Frank and Helen (Veigl) Schwaiger. She died peacefully in her sleep, in the arms of her husband John, on June 4, 2019, after a 2-year battle with gallbladder cancer.
Determined to escape the poverty of her youth, Fran worked hard to become valedictorian of her 1975 Cullman High School class. She then won a full scholarship to the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, from which she graduated Summa Cum Laude. After brief stints at Procter & Gamble and the Memphis VA Hospital, Fran was hired by Federal Express in 1982, the first woman engineer hired by the company. In her 31-year career she worked in several positions in Memphis, Tenn.; Nuremburg, Germany; and Seattle, Wash. Her last 13 years were as the Ramp Engineer for the FedEx operation at SeaTac Airport.
Even before her retirement, Fran was working on ways to encourage girls to pursue engineering careers. In 2010 she endowed a scholarship for Alabama girls to study engineering at Vanderbilt. In 2017 she endowed another scholarship for graduating Cullman High School seniors to study Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math at any university. She also was active for several years in IGNITE - Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution - in the Seattle School District. Showing her softer side, with John she raised two puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind: Fergie now guides a Physical Therapist in Florida; and Evelyn guides a retired police officer in Alabama. With her beloved Labrador/Golden Retriever therapy dog Tessa, Fran brightened the days of many patients at memory care facilities in Edmonds and Shoreline, Wash. for the past five years.
Fran is survived by her husband, John Weiss of Edmonds, Wash.; sister, Lisa Schwaiger of Birmingham, Ala.; and a large extended family, many in the Cullman, Ala. area.
A memorial service will be held at North Sound Church, 4th & Bell St, Edmonds, WA, at 2p.m. Saturday, June 29. Donations to the Fran Kay Schwaiger Scholarship Fund at will be appreciated.
Published on June 11, 2019
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2 posts

Rita Arndt Schaffer
Jun 13, 2019
She went through all 12 years of school with my brother so I was closer to Lisa's age. But I do remember her so vividly as being so kind to us and a ready smile and so.... gentle. My daughter is also an engineer and I thank Fran for setting that bar high. Rest good and faithful servant. You truly leave a legacy for many young women.
Kathy Hunter Byrd
Jun 11, 2019
Fran was an exceptionally kind, caring and encouraging classmate. She continued to be all those things throughout her life. A life full of accomplishments, but one with a commitment to leave behind a lasting legacy to encourage other young women to excel in the field of engineering and life. Rest in peace, Fran! You have left this world a much better place.