Frances Elizabeth King made her debut around suppertime on a cold evening at her paternal grandparents’ home in Plains, Kansas on December 31, 1920.
Being the first child born to Harvey and Georgia Mae King, Frances was the object of much love and attention. Her Uncle Tee (her father’s youngest brother) was eleven years her senior and enamored with the tiny tot. However, he had been strictly warned not to touch the infant. But the strong-willed Tee disobeyed and, on the sly, picked up his cuddly niece-unfortunately, he dropped her before he could sneak her back in her crib. Tee received a spanking, but, from then on, he was allowed to hold little Frances under Georgia Mae’s watchful eyes.
Despite this bumpy beginning, Frances grew up a strong and happy child on her parents’ farm. The eldest of eight children, she thrived in her close-knit family. Her favorite time of year was Christmas when there were plenty of dolls and other toys under the tree, as well as pretty new dresses to wear to church and family celebrations.
When Frances was eleven, the King family moved to Alliance, Nebraska. Frances blossomed into a responsible and industrious young woman who took her first job at fifteen ironing shirts after for three dollars a week. She attended Alliance High School and excelled in gymnastics, yet she was barred from state-wide competitions due to the discrimination against African American athletes at that time. She graduated from high school in 1939.
Seven days before her nineteenth birthday, Frances married her high school sweetheart, bearing her first child, Robert Eugene, followed by Barbara Frances two year later. The family left Alliance and settled in Denver, Colorado where Frances worked and raised her children. Unfortunately, after ten years, her marriage ended in divorce. A five-year second marriage followed. Her third marriage, which also ended in divorce after three years, produced her daughter Annette Louise.
Unlucky in love, Frances focused her life on raising her children, developing her skills to advance her career with the Federal Government, and living her Christian faith through stewardship.
In 1969, Frances moved to Lincoln to care for her ailing parents. Upon their passing, Frances left her job at the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) to relocate to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1972 to work for the National Finance Center. She remained in New Orleans for six years, during which time she developed a taste for soft-shelled crab, gumbo and down-home, southern gospel music. However, with her children married or away at college, Frances longed for the familiarity of Lincoln and old friends, so in 1978 she returned to the Star City where she remained these past forty-two years.
Frances enjoyed a happy, busy and fulfilled life, rich in good friends and family. A member of Mount Zion Baptist Church since she returned to Lincoln, Frances served as Sunday School Superintendent for nine years, treasurer for twenty years and Trustee.
Having retired in 1988, Frances was an active member of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), where she served as Secretary, Second Vice-President and President of the Capital City Chapter. She was also a past president of the SCS Retiree’s Breakfast Club, which meets monthly.
For the past thirty-three years, Frances made a home with her daughter Annette and grandson, Lathan Murrell. Besides Lathan, Frances was also the beloved grandmother of Christopher Lewis, Donnis (Cox) Hurd, and Ronneka Cox. To her delight, Frances also had four great-grandchildren: Christopher Lewis, Jr, Jonathan Lewis, Jeremy Lewis and Jaxson Hurd.
Asked why she was a woman of great faith and stewardship, Frances responded: My mother was a Christian ever since I can remember...I always knew there was something that kept her going as we struggled on the farm. My dad was injured by mustard gas during the war, so he was hospitalized several times at the Veterans’ Home in South Dakota. Despite the hardship, my mother kept all eight children together through the strength of her belief in God...and my belief and strength in knowing Jesus Christ is my personal Savior has kept me safe all these years too.
A Private Funeral Service will be held. A live stream of the service will be available on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:00 AM via a link on this webpage. Interment will be at Wyuka Cemetery.
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