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April 30, 1939 ~ January 11, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old
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Frances R. Lewis, a long-time resident of Colonie Village, passed away on January 11, 2024 at the age of 84. One thing our mother liked more than almost anything else was a good story. Here's some of hers:
Born in Albany, New York on April 30, 1939, Frances was the daughter of Morris Offricht and Ruth Corbat, the widow of Howard D. Lewis (her partner of 55 1/2! years), the mother of Alex, Erica, and Jesse Lewis, the mother-in-law of Leah Backus, and the grandmother of Lindsey, Matthew, and S.F.C. Lewis. Frances had one sister, Lois Dworkin, with whom she loved recounting stories of their mother’s g-d-awful cooking, and two nieces, Rachel and Deborah Dworkin. She is also predeceased by her brother-in-law, Carl Dworkin, and her sister-in-law, Marjorie Nelson.
Fran was a woman of compassion, wit, and determination, with a deep appreciation for the arts, literature, and irony. She was an avid reader, the creator of the world’s best chocolate mousse, and a cutthroat scrabble player.
As a kid growing up in Albany, Fran enjoyed trips to Lake Luzerne to swim and visit cousins, taking her kid sister to the movies with the $1.50 her mother gave her, and attending musicals with her family. In her family’s brief move to Conroe, Texas, she developed her love of ice cream, hanging out with her father in his little shop, and observed one of her favorite stories to tell, the one about the giant roaches that moved her mother’s slipper. …They moved back to Albany.
After graduating from Albany High School, Fran attended SUNY Albany, earning her Bacherlor’s degree in English and connecting with her sorority sisters. Building bonds of friendship that spanned throughout her life. As young wives and mothers, they swapped stories of marriage, made children’s clothing from patterns, and cooked meals from scratch.
She also continued her education, earning first a Master’s in Library Science that propelled her to a career of nearly two decades in Public Relations and Library Science at the Albany Public Library and the Colonie Town Library. She even went door-to-door to raise awareness and collect signatures to support the campaign to build a new Colonie library - the one built and dedicated in 1978 - that stands today, in addition to attending myriad library conferences with her beloved friend Joan.
Her Master of Fine Arts, in Writing, furthered her passion for words. F. R. Lewis, as she was often known in literary circles, transformed her keen observation skills and quick wit into material, including one such piece, “Aggravation,” an embarrassing (not to her) story about her son’s absurd love life in his 20s, published in 1996 in "Mother of the Groom.”
Her short stories can be found in literary journals and publications, such as The Cream City Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ascent, Jewish Currents, The Chariton Review, Thirteenth Moon, San Jose Studies, and in the 1989 awards issue of Negative Capability, and were also heard on NPR’s,"The Sound of Writing” series. Perhaps her tastiest writing endeavor was as a restaurant review writer for the Metroland. F. R. was the recipient of many writing accolades, including two PEN Syndicated Fiction Project awards, selection to participate in multiple writers’ conferences, including Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and passed along her love of writing by teaching writing and literature to young people through educational courses and programs, such as Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Frances was also involved with many civic and social activities. She was an active member of her Jewish community, a former member of Congregation Beth Emeth, where she was a member of the Sisterhood and co-President of the Couples Club, as well as past President of her local Hadassah chapter. She was also an active member of The League of Women Voters, and the Genealogy Society well into her 70s — that is, when she was not walking the track or teaching her water aerobics classes, a certification she achieved at age 70ish.
And when she wasn’t otherwise involved in all those other activities, you might have found her snapping pictures or growing rhubarb in her backyard, sketching vases or painting portraits, playing scrabble with her son and daughter-in-law, watching turkeys, squirrels, and birds from her window, enjoying turkey-time kitchen chat with her brother-in-law, playing wacky words and rummikub with Fang and her grandchildren, collecting shells with her sister on the beach, telling Howard, “don’t throw that out!” or just sitting quietly with her book, crossword and Sudoku.
Whether reading with the grandkids, enjoying random facts a la Rikki, or teaching Debo the chocolate mousse trick, Frances R. Lewis … was present. And she. Her light. Her wit. Her strength. Her smile. She. She will be missed every day.
The family would also like to extend its heartfelt thanks to those family, friends, neighbors, and workers whose “little” acts made such a huge difference, bringing our mom assistance, sunshine, and magic during some tough times.
A memorial service celebrating Frances’ life will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, January 24th, in the Levine Memorial Chapel, 649 Washington Avenue, Albany. Shiva will be held at the family home on Thursday, January 25th, 4-7p; Friday, January 26th, 1-3p; and Sunday January 28th through Wednesday, January 31st 3-6p.