Frances Frisk
Frances Frisk

Obituary of Frances Beryl Frisk

Frances Beryl Stein, later Frisk, known as Frannie among family and friends, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 4, 1928, to Alice Mary (Allen) Stein and Rexford Emanuel Stein, the second of four daughters, with Jeanie being the eldest and Mary and Cheri being younger. Frannie came from a family background of people who loved being in the outdoors, who loved cats, music, and reading, and who believed in the value of a college education. Mom and dad were Minnesota Democrats who supported working class issues, and Frannie continued her liberal bent throughout her adult life, always making sure to vote. She tried to stay abreast of current politics, but was cautious about voicing strong opinions, out of regard for differences with other family members. During the depression the family moved to Spring Lake Park where they lived in an unfinished two-story wood frame house. That day Frannie and her sisters Jeanie and Mary rode in an open two-wheeled trailer for 10 miles towed by their father who was driving a 1934 Ford. Their new home gave them three acres, plenty of space to garden, a lake to fish in and skate on in winter, and a wooded back lot. In the summer the three sisters all swam with neighbor kids every day. There they raised their own produce and chickens and also enjoyed a cat, crows and goats as pets. Frannie and her sisters were taught many practical skills by their parents. Frannie, her mother and sisters were active members in a developing Free Lutheran Church. There Frannie was confirmed, sang in the church choir and as a teenager played the piano for Sunday services. During high school she joined a teen club in nearby Columbia Heights and for one year became its president. Her talent in art became evident during high school. At the request of the faculty, she drew excellent portraits of all members of the school’s football team. At the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis she enjoyed classes in many types of art media and did extensive reading for her classes in humanities. She worked her way through college with full-time summer jobs and part-time jobs during the school year. In 1950 Frannie received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in Art and a minor in Humanities. She said that during college she loved sculpture and painting the most. After she graduated from the U of M, Frannie was ready for adventure and new places, so when Alice's Mormon friend invited her to Idaho, she found a way to escape their cold unfinished house and its hardships, and Frannie was glad to go West. She and her mother Alice and sister Cheri took a train out west to Idaho Falls, Idaho. Her father Rex and sister Mary stayed behind in Spring Lake Park. After five weeks in Idaho Falls, Alice’s brother Jim came to visit them and swore that he would not leave until they came back with him to Seattle, where Jim and his brother Art could watch out for them. They agreed to go. After moving to Seattle, they lived in Jim's house for a while as well as rented rooms in the Wallingford neighborhood, U District and North Seattle. Frannie was their main financial provider for the three of them as she worked in the offices of several businesses. She volunteered as a USO hostess, conversing and dancing with many servicemen on their way to and from the Korean war. Frannie also took several art classes while enjoying a lively social life with friends and servicemen. Frannie said that she and her future husband, Bill, met at the USO and she liked him because he was good looking and liked to dance. She said she thought that he was wife-hunting, like many guys at the time. On August 21, 1953, Frannie wrote a letter to her father Rex and sister Mary who still lived in Minnesota, with a big announcement: Dear Daddy & Mary, Such wonderful correspondents you are! This is just to let you know the latest development with me. Next Saturday, August 29 Bill and I are getting married, at a small Lutheran church not far from here. We’ll have a small wedding & small reception, a cake and coffee, but not much else. I haven’t bought my dress yet – will this Monday . . . They soon enjoyed entertaining friends and family in their first house in north Seattle. She took lessons in golf and bridge before their first son was born. They eventually had three sons, Howard, Dale and Phil. While her children were young, Frannie was a full-time homemaker and an excellent seamstress who made many friends. She and her sons attended the Unitarian Church for several years. She supported their endeavors such as Howard’s playing the violin in the school orchestra, Dale’s golf as well as getting up at the crack of dawn to drive her sons around on their paper route. Frannie financially supported all three of her sons’ college educations. Later she became an Educational Assistant at an elementary school, learning the latest educational methods to individualize instruction in basic skills. She loved her job as a paraprofessional in the Seattle Public Schools, because she delighted in helping kids learn who were having difficulty. She was proud of being able to effectively guide them. Frannie enjoyed singing in an excellent women’s chorus, as well as another chorus that sometimes performed with the Seattle Symphony. In her later years, she enjoyed crossword puzzles, mystery fiction, listening to a variety of music; among her favorites were classical music, opera, and jazz singers, from Sarah Vaughn to Louis Armstrong (What a Wonderful World), even Garth Brooks. She was a blood donor for many years and was in the PTA when her sons were in elementary school. She was quite conscious about contributing to her community. Frannie was a loyal family supporter. In 1952 she helped her sister Mary financially in Seattle for six months during Mary’s college years. In the 1990’s until her mother’s death Frannie donated all her Social Security checks to her mother, with the other daughters contributing what they could. She also managed her father’s financial affairs after his death. Frannie made good friends wherever she went. She and Bill were members of the Elks Club, and she took her sons there often to use the swimming pool and have dinner at their restaurant. Frannie had a sense of adventure, taking her sons camping at various state parks around Washington state when they were young. She was a good photographer and enjoyed taking pictures wherever she went. She loved to travel, from joining Elderhostel for 5 trips to Europe, plus trips to Illinois to see her sister Jeanie when her kids were young, to Massachusetts to visit Howard’s young family, and to California to visit sister Mary. Her favorite European trip was visiting Monet’s water lily garden in France. When Frannie and Cheri became aware that their mother, Alice, had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t safely live independently any longer, Frannie took the lead in finding caregivers to hire. Frannie, no longer working, was able to invest considerable time to interviewing, hiring, and overseeing caregivers at Alice’s home. She eventually found an adult group home for Alice’s final years. Frannie performed a huge service to Alice and the family through her care and wisdom. Frannie and her good friend Marie were part of a bridge club that spanned 50 years. Members changed occasionally during those years, but the friendships were strong and they supported each other through major life events. Four are still living, now all in their 90’s. Frannie and one or two friends walked together around Green Lake for exercise and to be out in nature. They did this for a few years. These ladies comforted each other when they became widows. Frannie loved and appreciated her daughters-in-law, Howard’s wife Penny and Phil’s wife Mona. These two warm-hearted women happily took over hosting family gatherings in Frannie’s place and made sure she got to see her grandchildren and great grandchildren as often as possible, which delighted her. During the last few of her declining years, they visited often, bringing flowers and gifts, along with their loving presence. Frannie was preceded in death by her husband, William Frisk, her parents Rex and Alice, her older sister Jeanie Stafford and daughter-in-law Jamie Frisk. She is survived by her three sons: Howard, Dale and Phil; Howard’s wife Penny and Phil’s wife Mona; two sisters: Mary Kienitz and Cheri Stein; four grandchildren: Melissa, Justin, Kristen and Karl; and five great-grandchildren: Lilly, Brodie, Avery, Sierra and Jude. Frannie’s good friend Marie says, “As I reflected on my friendship with Frances I remember foremost her love and pride in her sons. Her intelligence, her artistic knowledge, her intensity in following her special interests. I respect her spirit of independence . . . All her being was centered in her family.” Frannie’s sister Cheri says, “What I remember most was Frannie’s willingness to edit her own feelings, wishes, and opinions in an attempt to avoid hurting or coming into conflict with others. I was often concerned that she may have overdone being so protective, but, like she always said, “ya gotta pick your battles”. She had a very tender heart.” Frannie’s last day in this world was November 14, 2021, in Shoreline. She will be dearly missed. A private memorial service will be held to honor her legacy as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.
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