Frances M. Johnson, 94, of Westborough

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Westborough – Frances M. Johnson, 94, a resident of Westborough for nearly 40 years and a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, passed away peacefully on May 11, 2024, at Christopher House, a rehabilitation center in Worcester.

A service commemorating Fran’s life will be held at St. Stephen’s Church in Westborough at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 24th; all are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, and in honor of Fran’s long-standing appreciation for Native American culture and heritage, the family asks that mourners consider making a donation to the renowned St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana.

Mother to six – daughters Karen, Shirlee, and Christine; and sons Roy Jr., David, and Paul–Fran devoted many years of her long life to raising a family in Wellesley with her husband, Roy Sr., whom she married in 1949 after cultivating an epistolary relationship during his service in the South Pacific at the end of the Second World War. Fran leaves her six children, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She is predeceased by her two husbands, Roy Sr. and Francis Bulger, along with her sister Leah, and brothers Ralph, Robert, and Horace.  Fran leaves two sisters, Esther, and Adelaide.

In her forties, Fran began her nursing studies, and she served as a nurse’s aide well into her fifties, when a series of injuries cut short her career. An interest in health issues and nursing was something she maintained throughout her life. But it is through the power of her personality that Fran will perhaps be most remembered: she possessed a vibrant nature, featuring an increasingly rare but welcome combination of strong opinions and heartfelt compassion, though she was sometimes pre-judged for the former and under-appreciated for the latter.

Fran was also known for her enduring beauty, elegant sense of style, and practical expressions of her artistic nature. At Fran’s hand, woebegone furniture was refinished into reclaimed gems, while fabrics and yarns of various kinds were coaxed – courtesy of her formidable skills at sewing, knitting, crocheting, and needlepoint – into sartorial treasures: family members from a succession of generations were able to proudly wear a wide variety of clothing items Fran had crafted and, in many instances, designed herself.

Though her artistic talents did not necessarily translate seamlessly into the musical realm, she played the piano with considerable vigor and great enthusiasm (despite her persistent predilection for striking the wrong keys), and she unfailingly encouraged her children’s participation in Episcopal choirs.

Fran was an inveterate lover of nature and animals, many of whom populated her home over the span of her lifetime. She even held an unfulfilled (fortunately) dream of encountering a polar bear in the wild. But since imagination constitutes its own form of gratification, one suspects that in her mind’s eye, Fran transformed the daunting arctic environs and its primary predator into the polar equivalent of a petting zoo. Still, a number of Fran’s more mundane, spontaneous adventures were carried out without a hitch: her post-midnight shopping expeditions at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine; her sultry-day visits to the ocean after she learned to swim in her forties; the summer-long family camping trips she presided over across rural New England.

Yet it is the simple fact of Fran’s personal presence, not her undertakings, that will be missed the most by those fortunate enough to have known her: the smile that could only be measured in megawatts, the gift for conversations that ventured into the unexpected nooks and crannies of everydayness, the willingness to enjoy the little happenstances of life that too often elude the grasp of consciousness. And, since Fran was diminutive in stature though hardly in spirit, the Latin expression multum in parvo – much in little – would seem to crystallize the essence of her contributions to this life and will reside foremost in our collective memory of her.

Her funeral service will be on Friday, May 24, at 1:00 P.M. in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 3 John St., Westborough. Burial will follow in St. Luke’s Cemetery.

A calling hour will precede the service from 12 to 1 P.M. at the church.

Pickering & Son Westborough Funeral Home assisted with arrangements.

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