Frances Mallory Miller died at home in Watkins Glen, New York, on October 9, 2016 at the age of 94. She was preceded in death by her husband George Jacob Miller, her parents and her sisters, Grace, Sue and Ella. She is survived by 2 children, George C. Miller, II (Skip) and Sue Mallory Miller Malone, 5 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.
Frances Parham Mallory was the third of four sisters, born May 3, 1922 to James Baugh Mallory, Jr. and Eva Ashby Butterworth Mallory. Frances came from a long line of southern gentlemen and ladies: planters and politicians, physicians and lawyers, colonels and captains, most of them tracing their ancestry back through the Jamestown colony of Virginia. She lived a charmed childhood in the 1920s, growing up in the small town of Lawrenceville in Brunswick County, Virginia, just north of the North Carolina border. Her father was the town dentist and her mother operated the household and was the county registrar. Frances lived amongst horses and buggies, mules and wagons, two-acre gardens in everyone’s backyards, penny candy at the general store, smokehouses and summer kitchens, and visits from the horse-drawn cart to deliver ice blocks to the ice box in the basement. She spent long summer afternoons sitting outside with her daddy, shelling butterbeans and slicing apples, and playing outside in the woods with friends until dusk.
As a teen in the 1930s, she lived through the Depression, but was utterly shielded from it by her parents. She had no idea that her parents had lost everything except their house and had to start over again. If her father was paid at all for his services, it was often with butter or firewood or bacon or chickens. Her mother made all her clothes and canned everything from the garden to last through the winters. Frances and her friends reveled in the town’s new swimming pool and semi-pro baseball stadium, built by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1936 as part of FDR’s economic stimulus program. She became an expert swimmer and diver, later performing on the synchronized swim and diving teams in college.
Frances graduated from Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia in 1943 with a degree in biology. She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. In addition to the synchronized swim team and dive team, she was a member of the YWCA, the Cotillion Club, the Drama Club, and the Mardi Gras Court. After graduation, Frances moved to Virginia Beach, where she taught biology and chemistry in public high school. It was there in 1943 that she met a “poor, lonesome little Yankee boy” on a blind date arranged by their boarding house landladies. George was a Navy pilot stationed in nearby Norfolk. Just weeks later, George shipped out to England. For the next year, Frances continued to teach high school, and George was a bomber pilot flying Liberators out of England, participating in D-Day in June of 1944. Upon George’s return in late 1944, Frances and George were married at her home in Virginia. They lived in Hutchinson, Kansas and Pensacola, Florida where George taught flying at the naval air stations.
At the end of the war, Frances – now known as Frannie in the north – moved with George to his hometown in Watkins Glen. Together they raised their family, volunteered for civic projects, and supported local schools, churches, and businesses. George and Frannie were blessed over the years by an astonishingly wide circle of lifetime friends, accumulating endless stories and pictures, of parties, laughter and memories. Not the least of these events was the hosting at home of the annual New Year’s Eve Party lasting into dawn, a decades-long tradition sorely missed when advancing age made it impossible to continue.
After their children left home, Frannie and George spent winters in Florida and summers at their cottage on Seneca Lake. Frannie was one of the last survivors of the Watkins Glen Bridge Club. She also volunteered at Blood Bank.
Frannie retained her mental acuity to the day she died. Visitors meeting her for the first time just days before her death described her as elegant and witty, a true southern lady.
Frannie was cremated, her ashes to be spread at a memorial event on a date yet to be determined. Frannie requested donations may be made in her name to the Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Association (SCVAA), 909 South Decatur Street, Watkins Glen NY 14891 or to the Watkins Glen Public Library, 610 South Decatur Street, Watkins Glen NY 14891.