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Frances Margaret Kiernan Ries

Frances Margaret Kiernan Ries, 90, a longtime resident of Cary and Kill Devil Hills, NC, passed away peacefully on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015 at Glenaire Retirement Community in Cary, NC.

Ries is survived by three daughters, Nancy Virginia Ries, of Hamilton, NY; Susan Louise Ries Barnes of Greensboro, NC; and Margaret Elizabeth Ries Alter of Camillus, NY; sons-in-law Marc Barnes and Robert Alter; grandsons William Stephenson and Michael Stephenson of Camillus, and Patrick Barnes of Greensboro. Fran’s husband, William Alfred Ries, passed away in 1987.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on June 5 at Glenaire Retirement Community, 4000 Glenaire Circle, Cary.

Born April 10, 1925 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Fran grew up in Flossmoor, Illinois and Port Jefferson, NY, where she graduated high school in 1943. During the war, Fran attended Penn State University and the University of Chicago, studying meteorology and history. After leaving college she worked for United Airlines in Washington and Denver and Abbott Labs in Chicago. From 1950 to 1953 she worked in Japan as a clerk in the Reparations Office of the Supreme Commander Allied Powers and Far East Command in Tokyo. She remembered her experiences in Japan for the rest of her life.

Returning to Chicago in early 1953, she worked as a secretary at the John W. Shaw Advertising Agency where she met her future husband, William Alfred Ries. They married in Chicago on May 15, 1954 and honeymooned in the Southeast, visiting Fran’s uncle George Howard, his wife Martha, and their boys in Virginia; they also visited and fell in love with the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Fran and Bill lived in Rogers Park in Chicago, where their daughters Nancy, Susie, and Peggy were born. From 1965 to 1974 they lived in Evanston. In Chicago and Evanston, they were active members of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake, and St. Matthews Church, and particularly enjoyed putting on church theatricals, where Fran’s comic abilities came to light. Fran enjoyed bowling, tearing down walls in her old house, and camping. Fran was a voracious reader her entire life.

In 1974, Fran and Bill followed their dreams and moved to “the beach” in North Carolina where they founded the Outer Banks Theater Arts Center, and later William A. Ries and Associates Advertising Agency. On the beach, they produced summer theater performances of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and the musical that Bill co-wrote, “The Flight Brothers,” which was later shown on the UNC Center for Public Television.

Wherever she lived, Fran played a keen role in leadership on behalf of girls and women. She was a Girl Scout Troop leader in Evanston and Service Unit Cookie Chairman and registrar for many years on the Outer Banks. During her years in Cary, she continued her service to the Girl Scouts. She was a lifelong Democrat, and active in the League of Women Voters. For two decades on the Outer Banks, she was a faithful member of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, where she served on the Vestry. During 19 years at Glenaire, she served on the Dining Committee and the Friday Movie committee. She worked in the Gift Shop and the Library.

Fran was game for any aeronautical adventure. On the Outer Banks, she flew in a tandem hang-glider. When Fran was in her late eighties, her daughter Peggy arranged aeronautic adventures in a two-seat biplane, a hot-air balloon, and a glider. She loved flying, and the family is comforted knowing she has happily soared away into the infinite blue yonder.

We also know that wherever she is now, she is busy giving instructions for improvement.

The nurses at Glenaire cared for Fran in her last months, and her family deeply appreciates their skilled, gentle, and generous attention. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations in memoriam to The Presbyterian Homes Foundation, Inc. 2109 Sandy Ridge Rd, Colfax, NC 27235 (for the benefit of Glenaire) or to Transitions LifeCare of Raleigh, NC, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh NC 27607.

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