Frances Frumin Weiner of West Hartford, Conn. and Truro died peacefully at home on May 9, 2021. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. She was 77.
Fran was born on May 22, 1943 in Detroit, Mich. to Herman and Faye Frumin. She grew up in Detroit and graduated from Mumford High School and the University of Michigan.
After graduation, she taught middle school social studies and history in Detroit. She married Lawrence Weiner in 1968 and moved to DeRidder, La., where Larry served in the Army. In 1973, Fran and Larry moved to Connecticut. Fran joined two book clubs and maintained her membership for the next 40-plus years. In all those years, she never left a book club book unfinished.
When her youngest child started kindergarten, Fran went back to work as a teacher at the Woodstock School and Day Treatment Center, where she taught social studies, history, and, occasionally, phys ed. As a teacher, Fran was endlessly patient, energetic, and creative. As a mom, rather than the stereotypical “helicopter parent,” Fran was a good-natured zeppelin, floating at a benevolent distance, allowing her children to figure things out for themselves.
Fran loved all kinds of music. She introduced her kids to everything from bluegrass, zydeco, and klezmer to Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, and took them on trips to see musicals in New York City. She once tried her hand at country music and composed a song called “Stranded on the Sidelines of Life.”
An accomplished cook, she taught her children to be adventurous eaters; a lifelong learner, she earned a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and audited classes there and at the University of Connecticut for decades. She also attended a weekly discussion group devoted to the New Yorker.
She told her kids, “It’s all material!” an assertion she might have regretted when her oldest daughter grew up to be a novelist.
Fran and Larry’s marriage ended in 1989. In 1994, Fran fell in love with a woman, thus ensuring that, at every family gathering, her kids would page through old photo albums, looking for signs and wondering what they’d missed.
In 2003, Fran welcomed her first grandchildren and met the love of her life, Clair Kaplan. Fran retired in 2006. She and Clair would spend 18 years together, traveling, bickering, going to the theater and to museums, and hosting parties and holiday celebrations. Fran was active until the end of her life, always happy to get on her bike, lace up her ice skates, or climb on a sled with her grandchildren.
Fran will be remembered for her boundless good cheer, her optimism, her serene attitude, and her distinctive fashion aesthetic, which could be described as “color-blind preschooler.” She was also famously frugal. Instead of stopping for meals during road trips, she’d pack a cooler full of food, always including hard-boiled eggs, which would fill the car with their sulfurous reek. On outings, she’d pack a “feed bag,” its contents including, but not limited to, several bruised apples, a jar of peanut butter with a spoon, and at least one unrefrigerated yogurt.
Fran traveled the world, but summers on the Outer Cape were special to her. When her grandchildren were little, she’d take them to the outdoor concerts at Snow’s Park and to square dances at the Wellfleet Pier. She would swim the length of Gull Pond in Wellfleet while the grandkids took swimming lessons, and she and Clair taught all the grandkids to ride their bikes in the parking lot at Corn Hill Beach, to collect cranberries in the bogs, and to find clams with a clam rake or their bare toes in the bay. At least once a summer, Fran and family would go fishing for striped bass on Capt. Rich Wood’s Beth Ann. One year, when the fish weren’t biting, Fran asked if anyone wanted a snack and pulled a banana out of her ubiquitous feed bag. Capt. Rich quickly threw the banana overboard, and almost threw Fran off after it, explaining that bananas are bad luck and that, of course, that was why we weren’t catching anything.
Fran also survived a near-death experience when she got stuck in the mud while oystering in Truro. Only the quick intervention of neighbors Stuart and Catherine Fross saved her from a slow death by rising tide.
She attended Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway at the Art House concerts, plays at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and sing-alongs with Bobby Wetherbee at the Crown & Anchor’s Dive Bar. She loved the sushi at Mac’s Shack, the oysters at Moby Dick’s, and the ice cream at Sweet Escape.
Fran leaves a sister, Marlene Schwartz, and husband Richard of West Bloomfield, Mich. and four children: Jennifer and husband Bill of Philadelphia; Molly and husband Jeff, Jake and wife Maurine, and Joe and wife Dixie, all of Los Angeles. She also is survived by a stepson, David, of Denver; six grandchildren: Olivia, Lucy, Ben, Phoebe, Emilia, and Dottie; her dog, Lincoln; and her loving wife and partner, Clair Kaplan. Fran also leaves behind three quarts of expired sour cream, 14 pairs of activity-specific sneakers, and the Sunday New York Times opened and folded to the crossword puzzle.
Donations in her memory may go to Planned Parenthood or Dog Star rescue; or remember her when you pet your dog, hug your grandchildren, or read a good book.