Frances Warren DeShong. August 9, 1925 – May 21, 2010. Memorial Service to be held Tuesday, June 8th, 10:00 AM, First United Methodist Church, 2466 First Street, downtown Ft. Myers. (239) 332-1152. Reception immediately following.
Frances, always “Mom” to her two daughters, was born in Tampa , FL in 1925 to Fred and Johanna Kelsey. She had an older brother, Jack, born four years earlier. Since our grandfather, Fred, was the Superintendent of the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, we remember as children that our refrigerators were filled with Coke products and our childhoods laced with memorabilia from wagons to miniature coke bottles. Heaven forbid that one drop of Pepsi should ever enter our mouths! Our grandmother, Johanna, was a gifted seamstress who designed her own patterns and clothes so that my mother’s wardrobe was enviably superb. We’ve been told that the Best Dressed List of the times could easily have included Frances Kelsey. As a young girl, Mom tap-danced with a small company in Tampa and later studied voice in college when it became evident that music might be a natural calling.
Mom graduated as Salutatorian of Hillsborough High School in Tampa and attended Wesleyan College in Macon, GA. In 1946, she married our father, Benjamin F. DeShong, a handsome Major in the U.S. Army. Mom and Dad moved to Ft. Myers in 1950, joined the First United Methodist Church and quickly established roots that would span 50 years. In addition to being an enthusiastic mother of two daughters, she was a supportive wife and homemaker, and was very active in the community she loved. She served as Secretary and was on the Board of Directors of the Ft. Myers Women’s Community Club; participated in the Edison Pageant of Light (where both of her daughters served as Pages and were invited to be on the Court); served the church as choir soloist, altar guild member, pianist for the Adult Sunday School, and, in later years, played the hand bells. She also enjoyed competitive team bowling , where she won many trophies, as well as bridge club, crafts and sewing, reading, cooking and boating on the local waters.
Lovely to look at, intelligent, capable and creative, our mother’s finest legacy was her musical talent. Her exquisitely gifted soprano voice blessed the Methodist Church for over 30 years and rang out into the community with inspiration. Weddings, funerals and civic events cherished our mother’s glorious singing, and when she hit the high note in “O Holy Night” or “The Lord’s Prayer,” there was rarely a dry eye in sight.
In 2000, we moved Mom to Peachtree City , Georgia to be near her children and grandchildren. In her last years, she still enjoyed bridge and loved watching hours of football, baseball, golf and tennis. She kept her mind active with books and Jeopardy. She died peacefully in her own home on Friday, May 21st with remaining family at her side. We are gratefully assured she is now in the arms of the Savior whom she so often praised with glorious song. So here’s to you Mom – sing brightly in the land beyond pain. And hit a few high notes for us.
Frances is survived by two daughters and sons-in law: Shella and David Black of Destin, FL and Darla and Tom Olive of Peachtree City, GA; five grandchildren: Lydia Black O’Berry, Hanes Black, Chris, Lisa and Leslie Olive; and six grandchildren: Mitchell and Grayson O’Berry and Heather, Cody, Paige and Blake Olive. We are eternally grateful to our Heaven-sent caregivers – Darrell and Annie Pearl Hayes and Elaine Chafin, who provided our mother with the finest care possible and affectionately called her “Ms. D.” We are also indebted to our HOSPICE workers, who were nothing short of miraculous.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Music Ministry at First United Methodist Church, 2466 First Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901-2997 (239-332-1152) or to Healthfield HOSPICE, 2525 Highway 34, Newnan, GA 30265. (770-502-1104). We thank you for your generosity.