Frankie Lee Spears passed away peacefully the night of Tuesday, March 19, at the hospital in Viroqua, Wisc., with her daughter Brenda and son-in-law Jack at her bedside as she gracefully crossed over from this world into the next. In great pain and discomfort, she had several hard weeks prior to her passing.
Frankie was born in Montpelier, Idaho, Oct. 21, 1923, to a fourth-generation baker. Her given name was Frankie because she was "supposed" to be a boy, something with which she complied the best she could by being a rambunctious tomboy as a child. She grew up helping in the Royal Bakery with her parents, Vera and Frank, and her two sisters, Edythe and Norma Ruth. Just out of high school, she had to choose between love and her dream of a career in cartooning with Walt Disney. She decided on marriage and family and married a local man, Donell Pendrey. The two had a son, Michael Don. Donell joined the Navy, but sadly died in WWII aboard a ship somewhere in the Pacific. A few years later, Frankie married Glenn Spears, commonly known as "Pinkie." Frankie and Pinkie settled in Kemmerer and two years later gave birth to Brenda. My brother and I could not have asked for more loving and supportive parents.
Frankie was a self-taught artist and learned to paint with oils on canvas, producing amazing works. She loved crafts, made pottery, sewed dresses for Brenda's dolls, took hand-me-downs from her friend's teenage girls and created a beautiful wardrobe for Brenda. Holidays became her opportunity to create. She loved painting the most intricate scenes on Easter eggs. They were more works of art than eggs to crack. Christmas wrapping was elegantly executed. Frankie worked in the Kemmerer grocery store, IGA, and always had the longest line of the three check-out stands, as people were more than willing to wait in order to visit with her. She loved people and became friends with nearly everyone in town. She was everybody's shoulder to cry on, offering love and comfort. She used to say that people would drop by to talk she mostly listened and would leave very relieved and thankful for all her help. She always smiled at that thought, since she said that she felt she hadn't done that much to assist. She simply had a way of making people smile. Her husband, Pinkie, powered large equipment in a strip coal mine just outside of town. After retirement, he passed away in 1990, naturally leaving a large void in her life.
Back in 1967, within the span of six months, Frankie lost both her parents to cancer and diabetic complications and then her younger sister, Norma Ruth, to a brain aneurysm. Frankie was a very special aunt to Norma's son, Gregory. Gregory's father Freddy continued running the bakery. Frankie's older sister Edythe raised cattle and farmed just outside of Montpelier in a tiny farming community named Pegram. Frankie and Pinkie looked forward every year to calving season, as they loved helping out and being out in the fresh country air with the sounds of roosters to wake them in the morning. Frankie's whole family and all her close friends loved to camp out and they spent weekends and vacations laughing and loving the great outdoors.
About five months after her sister Edythe passed in 2005, Frankie decided that it was time to move closer to Jack and Brenda, even though that meant bravely moving from the area she had lived her entire life. The night before they were set to leave for Wisconsin, the devastating news of her son's sudden passing came, so instead of traveling east to Wisconsin, it became a trip west to Fresno, Calif., to attend to Michael's services. As you can imagine, this was a source of deep grief that took quite a toll on her, Brenda and Jack.
Being a strong and independent spirit, Frankie wanted her own place in Viroqua. She lived a short time on her own before her health called for more continuous care, which Brenda and Jack were happy and blessed to provide for six years at their home in La Farge, Wisc., where they enjoyed many good times and created fond and loving memories that bring great comfort now.
Then, in December 2012, pacemaker surgery required after-care and rehabilitation that was provided by Sannes Nursing Facility in Soldiers Grove, Wisc. She never regained enough strength to return home and remained at Sannes until the week before she passed.
The family is planning a Celebration of Life Memorial sometime in late spring or early summer, on a date yet to be determined. For those who would like to honor Frankie's life with a contribution, a donation to the cause of your choice in her honor would be a lovely gesture.
The Seland Huston Funeral Home of LaFarge is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at prattfuneralservice.com.