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Frances Mildred Gagne was born on January 18, 1929, in Detroit, to a large and loving family. As the oldest girl, she was called “the engineer,” while her youngest sister Bonnie became “the caboose.” She died on February 6, 2022, at the age of 93.
Frances entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation at age 20 and remained there for 30 years. She was a teacher and, in time was principal of St. Scholastica of Detroit, a ministry she continued after leaving the Congregation.
Frances never married or had children. When asked why she left the Congregation, she explained that she felt called to care for her parents as they grew older and needed assistance. This she did until both of them died.
The center of her big family, Frances was extremely devoted to her brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. One of her greatest joys was her cottage on Lake Huron. She would invite her guests to swim with her by saying, “Come on in, the water is warm – like bath water!” It really was not.
Frances was a firm but loving principal and several of her former students wrote about her on her memorial page. Many entries spoke of the warm welcome she gave each student. According to her family and the priest who delivered the funeral homily, Frances made it her special mission to empower young girls and would usually take the side of the girls in any dispute against the boys.
She was the cherished sister of the late Harvey (Shirley) Gagne, the late Roger Gagne, Joan (the late Richard) Lyons, Roberta (Raymond) Kamm, the late Carl Gagne, the late Lorna Gagne, the late Joseph (Susan) Gagne, Ronald (Karen) Gagne, Kathleen (Mike) DeNeen, and Bonnie (Paul) Crawley. She was also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Frances liked to have fun. She was involved with several outreach ministries to the poor. Her pastor, Father Randall Phillips, remarked, “Frances wore the Baptismal cloth well and was dedicated to the poor. She thought globally and acted locally."
The memorial Mass for Frances on March 2 was packed. She was so very loved and joy-filled. Frances’ parting words to all of us are captured in a popular poem, author unknown, published on many memorial cards.
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