Frances Rose passed away on July 4, 2015, at her home in Chapel Hill, in the loving presence of her son George (Andy) Rose, of Vancouver, Canada; daughter Sallie Singletary, of Newport News, Virginia; son Vernon Rose, of Chapel Hill; and son-in-law Ben Singletary.
Frances Louise Brooks was born in South Charleston, West Virginia, on January 10, 1921, daughter of Azel and Izola Brooks. She had one brother, Vernon, born in 1918 (died 1997).
Growing up in the small town of St. Albans, West Virginia, during the Depression, Frances absorbed values of thrift, hard work, and self-reliance – but also a strong sense of community, where neighbors looked out for each other so that no one would go hungry.
As a teenager Frances learned to sew, because she was so tall that she couldn't find off-the-rack clothes to fit her. Her skill at sewing and tailoring was put to good use throughout her life. When she attended Marshall College in Huntington, West Virginia, she convinced the administration to let her double-major in art and home economics, a combination unheard of at that time. After graduation she went on to teach those subjects in high schools.
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Frances was graceful, lovely, and exceptionally tall for that time. Refusing to view her height as a defect, she always held herself proudly upright, with perfect posture.
Frances was an independent and strong-minded young woman who intended to pursue a career and was in no hurry to get married. But – to the surprise of some of her friends – she readily settled into life as a homemaker and mother after marrying George A. Rose III in 1947. The marriage was a happy one; her children cannot remember her and George ever arguing.
She and George had a house built to their own plans in Weberwood, outside South Charleston, because no architect was willing to design what they wanted. Frances served in the Weberwood volunteer fire department – made up of women while the men were at work – and relished her role riding the fire truck and wrangling the big hoses.
George, originally from Henderson, North Carolina, was a chemical engineer and later research scientist at the DuPont plant in Belle, West Virginia. Tragically, he died of brain cancer in 1963. Now with three young children to raise on her own, Frances moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which became her home for the rest of her life.
Thinking of a career in social work, she entered graduate school at UNC, but found academic life abstract and pretentious. Fortunately, she soon found her true calling – or callings. She started teaching adult education classes in sewing and tailoring at Durham Technical Institute. Then she began a career in interior decorating. She and friend Bobbi Wallick launched their own business, The Room Therapists.
Frances loved her work and the interaction with clients, who in turn cherished a loyal relationship with her that could last for decades. She had an amazing eye and memory for colours and fabrics. The hallmark of her approach was to get to know her clients and help them discover what would be attractive and practical in their homes in real life – never imposing a magazine version of what was fashionable. That may explain why so many of her customers turned into close friends.
"Retirement" was never in Frances's vocabulary. Well into her 80s, she continued teaching, sewing, and consulting. She also enjoyed travelling to spend time with her children and granddaughters (Dr. Gretchen Singletary and Brook Singletary), who were now spread across the U.S. and Canada. She loved meeting new people and making new friends.
Frances took enormous pleasure in being independent and being able to help others in ways large and small. It was a hard blow when her eyesight deteriorated to the point that she could no longer sew, knit or drive. In the past four years she suffered an escalating series of health problems. Losing the ability to do for herself and to do for others was the most difficult for her to endure.
The fireworks last Saturday were a fitting send-off for this strong willed, independent and loving woman.
Arrangements by Cremation Society of the Carolinas, please see Guestbook at www. CremationSocietyNC.com