Friday, May 7, 2010

SEPIA SATURDAY-My mother's best friend comes to a sad end.

I got a message on Ancestry. com's message board. A very nice lady named Colleen had bought a 1933 Dixon High School yearbook in an antique shop in Freeport, Ill.  It had a picture and signature of my mother in it and she offered to send me a copy of it. I looked to see if I had that yearbook and found it but then noticed that instead of the messages being addressed to my mother they were addressed to her best friend, Fran. I don't know why I have Fran's yearbook instead of my mother's.

I wrote to Colleen and told her what I remembered about Fran: Fran dated Ronald Reagan in high school and my mother sometimes double dated with them.  He was a life guard on the Rock River and taught my mother to dive. My family visited Fran  when I was about 8 yrs. old.  She let me spend the night in a hammock. A big thrill for a little girl! She had married a doctor and they lived in a beautiful big house on the bank of a river in Oregon, Ill.

Several years after our visit we heard that Fran had killed herself.

Colleen is very into genealogy and was interested in researching Fran's life. She found out a lot of things that I didn't know. However, not why she committed suicide. Although there were, maybe, some hints.

After high school she went to Chicago and became a nurse. In 1943 she joined the Army and was stationed as a nurse in the South Pacific. She married Doctor Lambertus Warmolts, who was quite a bit older than her, in 1945. They adopted a baby girl in 1947 and in 1952 had (or adopted) a boy.

Fran moved to Tuscon, AZ. They seem to have lived together off and on after this. They still kept the house in Oregon so this may have been their winter house.

In 1960 Fran was found dead by her 13 year old daughter. A newspaper article said that she told her daughter that she was going to kill herself but since she had threatened this several times she didn't take it seriously. Her daughter had to crawl through a laundry chute to get to her because she had locked the door to her room.

A very sad end to a beautiful woman.

Here's my mother:

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Peg @ Bloomfield Farm said...

Fran's is a very sad story. It would seem that she has everything going for her, yet she must have been sad. I enjoyed reading your post.

Martin H. said...

Such a sad story of a woman remembered with affection. Both she and your mother have a rare beauty about them.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

That is a sad tale and isn't it a wonder how we get our stories and our photos. Like your having her yearbook? Who knows, perhaps so you could tell her story right here..interesting about Reagan too.

Barry said...

What a tragic story. Suicide leaves a lot of heartache in its wake.

Amazing to discover she once dated Ronald Reagan.

Betsy said...

Very sad story about Fran...she was a beautiful high school senior! Nice that you got your mom's yearbook after all these years...and how cool with the double dating and Reagan!

Hey Harriet said...

Oh that's such a heartbreaking story. The poor daughter :(

Nana Jo said...

What beautiful women your mother and her friend were. Suicide leaves such appalling grief in its wake. I find myself yearning to know more of the whys of her story.

Alan Burnett said...

That really is a tragic story : and yet again acts as a reminder that there is a lot of sadness out there within these "ordinary" lives.

willow said...

Isn't it exciting to connect with others in the genealogical world out there in cyberspace? So nice of Colleen to contact you with these photos. Sad story about the lovely Fran.

Nancy said...

Don't you think high school seniors of 1933 looked older than high school seniors these days? Did young people of 80 years ago look forward to being mature adults more than today's young people? Both "girls" in your photos are beautiful.


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