Obituary for Frances Lawrenow
FRANCES “FRAN” LAWRENOW
APRIL 23, 1937 – APRIL 26, 2021
It is with great sadness that we announce, after eight weeks in hospital following a stroke, that Fran, a wife, mother, baba, sister, aunt and dear friend to many, passed away peacefully at the Cranbrook Hospital on April 26, 2021, just days after her 84th birthday. She will be sorely missed.
Fran is survived by her loving husband Sam, married for one month short of 60 years. She is also survived by her two daughters, Sandra (Kevin) and Patricia (Dan), her six grandchildren, Megan, Brianne, Colton (Andrea), Mikayla (Brady), Annalise and Elena, her eldest sister Nell, brother/sister-in-laws Anne (Alec), Mabel (Peter) and Alec and numerous nieces and nephews and their families. She was predeceased by her parents, Andrew (2003) and Mary (1991), her in-laws William (2007) and Vera (1997), her sister Valerie (2018), brother-in-laws John (1999) and William (1998) sister-in-law Liz (1999), nieces Sheila (2017) and Cathy (2020), and nephews Terry (1998) and Wayne (2019).
Fran was born in the small farming community of Queenstown, Alberta where she lived with her family until she was four years old. The family then moved to Mission, BC, and Fran lived there on the family 10 acre farm until she graduated from high school. After high school she moved to Calgary, AB and worked in a bank. She was very proud of her Russian Doukhobor heritage, and found herself a young Russian man, Sam, whom she met on a blind date in 1960 and they were married in May of 1961. They had their first daughter, Sandra in 1964 while in Calgary, and then moved to Cranbrook a few years later where Patricia was born in 1968.
Fran was a stay-at-home-mom to many kids, at the time when her own kids were not yet in school. She was known as Grandma Fran to many that she regularly babysat. She loved them like her own, and her daughters accepted and fought with them all as if they were siblings.
Once Sandra and Patricia were in school, Fran started volunteering, and later worked, in the library at Muriel Baxter Elementary School. She continued working at that school, and later became the school secretary. When Highlands Elementary School was built, and the school where Patricia would continue at, she transferred there and was the school secretary until her retirement in 1999. She was always known as the ‘principal’ at the school, since she was the first person who would greet the students in the office, so therefore they only knew her as the principal. She loved that! Fran would always threaten her daughters that she would move to the junior and senior high schools, as they changed schools, but her daughters would have NONE of that nonsense. As it turned out, the secretaries between the schools always talked, so there was nothing that her daughters did that mom wouldn’t find out about…good or bad!!
Fran was ALWAYS busy…an understatement! She was rarely idle, and her hands were always busy doing something if she was at home…even right up until her stroke. She cooked more perogies and borscht in her lifetime than could likely be counted. EVERYONE knew her for her ‘white things’, a name her daughters always called vereniki (perogies) because the Russian word was too hard to say. There wasn’t a meal that friends, family, or neighbours had at her house that didn’t include white things or borscht at least once. She baked continually, and always had food ready for one person or for twenty people, so her daughters would often bring home friends because they knew there would be food…and mom wouldn’t mind! Fran also knitted and gave away more dishcloths than you would think could humanly be possible. Who DIDN’T receive a dishcloth?
Sam and Fran had many long-time friends. People were always stopping over regularly for coffee, food (because no one left without something to eat) or weekly games of Aggravation or cards. They also spent many years at Kootenay Lake seasonal camping, or ‘glamping,’ with their friends and family. They were also avid hockey fans, and went to every home game. Fran was very social and loved entertaining and always made everyone feel welcomed. She was always glad when Sandra and Patricia packed the family room with their friends for Bible Study, youth group or sleepovers.
Fran volunteered everywhere. She volunteered with the BC Figure Skating Association for many years doing a variety of tasks. She also was very involved at the Cranbrook Alliance Church, as secretary for the AWANA program, helping to setup and cook for functions, counting the offering, and would be available for whatever was needed over the years. She volunteered for all of the sports or activities her girls were involved in when they were growing up, and would be the mom making snacks for the group, last minute, only because her girls would always volunteer her name… at the last minute! In recent years, she volunteered weekly at the Cranbrook Hospital Information desk as well as the Mission Thrift Store…and she would bring home MANY treasures because her daughters or grandkids might need or like them!
She was a great (fantastic) Baba. She loved her grandkids and would spoil them and let them get away with a whole lot more than she ever would her daughters. She even went as far as dressing up as ‘Nanny McPhee,’ fake teeth/warts and all, and arriving on the plane in Winnipeg to look after the Franklin granddaughters for a week. ‘Baba McPhee’ talked about this for years to come, especially since she got off the plane to a huge crowd waiting for several Canadian Junior hockey players who had just won the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. There was a huge crowd at the airport to see the arrival of this raggedy old ‘Nanny McPhee,’ unbeknownst to her! Last summer, the Magnus grandchildren, along with
Colton’s wife Andrea and sister-in-law Rita, both of which were considered grandchildren as well, were able to take an impromptu trip to Cranbrook to visit Baba and Deda. They were immediately met with more ‘white things’ than they could eat and were able to spend some quality time at the cabin on Moyie Lake. They walked around and heard stories from when Baba and Deda once owned the property…a property sale we all have not forgotten about! This simple, quick trip held great significance and will always be a deeply cherished memory for all of the Magnus grandchildren, both old and new. She also taught all of her granddaughters how to make her infamous ‘white things,’ something they will all cherish as a special memory with their Baba. She phoned them all regularly, no matter where they lived in the world, to see how they were and to check on the weather. She tried to be internet savvy with her grandkids, and text, email and later zoom. Sometimes it would work, sometimes not so much. She had a short fuse for learning technology.
Fran read her Bible regularly and prayed for her family. She came to know Jesus personally many years ago after first dropping her daughters off at Sunday school at the Cranbrook Alliance Church, and then later starting to come to the services herself. She is with Jesus and we are so very thankful for that.
Thank you to all the doctors and nurses who so lovingly cared for our mom these last two months in the hospital in Kelowna and Cranbrook. Thank you for allowing her family to see her the last few weeks of her life with all the current restrictions.
In memory of her, and in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of the places she volunteered, either the
East Kootenay Foundation for Health www.ekfh.ca/donations-form
The Mission Thrift Store, www.missionthriftstore.com/financial-donate.
As her front door mat says, and something we will all miss,
“Welcome! Come in for a coffee, stay for some white things.”
We love you…and will miss you so very much.