Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fun Facts About Frances

1. Frances was the valedictorian at Batesville (MS) High School in 1935. This became a family tradition as both her daughter, Virginia, and son, Michael, were valedictorians at Tarpon Springs High School (FL) and her granddaughter, Jessica, was the valedictorian of her junior high, Thomas Junior High School (IL).

2. In 1933, Frances canned the most green beans in the State of Mississippi 4-H Contest and won a trip to the Chicago World's Fair, where she met and had breakfast with Amelia Earhart. Miss Earhart also presented Frances with an inscribed Elgin Platinum Watch.

3. Frances won a full 4-year scholarship to Bellhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend college, but this did not dimish her lifelong love of learning.

4. In her late-60s, Frances took up piano lessons.

5. In her late-70s or early 80s, despite having never learned to swim (even though she'd lived steps from the Gulf of Mexico for 40 years), Frances participated in a water aerobics class at the local health club. It was during this class that she finally learned to float.

6. After her husband Jesse died in 1961, Frances was left to raise her two children, Virginia and Michael alone. A mere 8 years later, after saving all of her money, Frances built her own home, a beautiful one-story cottage with 3 bedrooms - all custom built to her exact specifications.

7. A lifelong Christian, Frances was a founding member of Crystal Beach Community Church. She also served as Secretary, Treasurer, and taught Sunday School. When her husband Jesse died suddenly in 1961, her devotion to CBCC and God led her to donate all the money received by the family to start a Pew Fund so that the members of CBCC no longer had to sit on wooden folding Army chairs. Within 6 months of Frances' donation, enough money had been raised to buy pews for the entire church and two choir lofts.

8. A beautiful and talented seamstress, Frances designed and made all of her own clothes plus the clothes for her daughter Virginia until Virginia went off to college. Frances also made clothes for Jessica and all of Jessica's dolls.

9. Just before her 80th birthday and retirement from NationsBank in 1996, Frances enrolled in a water exercise class, despite not even knowing how to tread water or float, much less swim. The class was held in the shallow end of a pool and during the course of the class, she decided she wanted to learn to float and tread water. I'll never forget her beaming with pride at showing me on her 80th birthday that she'd learn to float and tread water. Whenever I catch myself thinking I can't do something because "I'm too old" (I'm in my late 30s), I remember Nana overcoming this obstacle at 80 years old.

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