A Tale of Two Obituaries

Marge’s Obituary

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Our life together, of course.  We were better as boyfriend/girlfriend than as man/wife, at least first, and sometimes later.  We brought along baggage from our lives with our parents, much of it useless. Marge was temperamental, she could be extremely very passionate and creative, also occasionally so cool that I got frostbite.  She was very smart, tall, and attractive.

She liked excitement and change but was easily upset, enjoying novelty but disliking ambiguity.  She had an oddball sense of humor,  perhaps that was the reason I married her. She was very curious, easily bored and would act and talk at the spur of the moment. She was well-read, well-educated, had a tremendous vocabulary, and was very expressive.

We survived early married life, as well as the empty nest.  Not easily of course. Many married couples experience this. Sure, we had misunderstandings, who doesn’t; but the good, better, and best times really outnumbered them.  We had some great times together and had times when we didn’t like each other, but really did love each other.

I have lived in Las Vegas since 1980 and until 2006, Marge and I owned a summer log cabin in UT.

Log cabin in UT

I spent a good part of the summers in the cabin doing maintenance, chopping wood, and reading.  Marge would often come up and  I did not live full-time in UT. This was a great time for both of us.  We could relax in a different zone of time and space. Our privacy often led to times of very prolonged romantic love, body and soul.

In her later years, Marge was operated on twice for colon cancer.  Five years went by and we thought she had it licked. Bad luck struck in 2010 when her cancer metastasized to stage four, terminal. I waited on her, pushed her around in her wheelchair, cooked, etc. She worked at her job until September when she was fired, for taking so much sick leave actually. She died at home in October 2012.  We really were meant for each other. We did love each other.  I miss her greatly but don’t grieve as much anymore.


Nichols Plot, Hancock, Frantzen

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY


Who was Joanne L Beardsley? Joanne was my childhood friend from age 3 through elementary school. Please forgive my sloppy work with the screen shots and this software.  It’s the first time I have tried it, more of my comments later on.

Screen Shot Joanne 1

Rochester obituary

Plattsburg obituary page 1

Plattsburg obituary page 2

Joanne LaPierre-Beardsley Condolences PDF

Joanne and I knew each other as neighbors since we were three years old in 1939. As time passed following elementary school, we drifted away on our separate paths through the transitions of life.  Prior to that we went to school together and played together as children during the rest of the Great Depression and throughout WWII.

Morrisonville NY – my old home

 We lived in the hamlet of Morrisonville, NY, not far south of the Canadian border. Classic small town America and our parents were lower middle class. Reflecting back, that was a good time and place to grow up, playing in the hills, in our yards and homes, and on the riverside. No supervision, just children having a good time growing up.  We both loved animals, cats especially.  That life formed a bond that lasted throughout our lives.

Joanne Beardsley 1997, Prince Edward Isle

For some unknown reason that I don’t fathom now, probably never will, was with both of us approaching Medicare age, we felt a wish to find out where our childhood friend was now.

Beardsley 3

Joanne Beardsley

Beardsley 1

Joanne Beardsley

Five decades had passed and in 1997 we both independently began wondering about our old childhood chum. Joanne lived in the central NY village of Honeoye Fall, not too far from Rochester, NY.   We were both retired at that time

Indirectly through connecting with Joanne’s brother and mother, we obtained mutual mail addresses. Separately and independently, we composed long letters about our lives over the decades.  These letters crossed in the mail, both of us receiving the other’s within a day of each other.  How likely is that?  VERY unlikely.

My friend and former college roommate Roy and I made a trip to upstate NY in 1998, making one stop in Morrisonville.  We met the LaPierres, stayed overnight and continued our trip.  Joanne and I were then senior citizens, not school children; we had both aged and showed it.

Joanne and I were friends, just that,  we were not romantically connected though we were very close friends. We continued to call and write to each other. This might imply that we were in love and couldn’t stand separation.  I don’t think so, though we felt emotionally close and enjoyed jointly recalling details of our life long ago as well as the present.  They were pleasant times, and I have no-one else to exchange these memories, and I think the same for Joanne. Joanne’s letters were warm and exuberant, she called me sensitive,  humorous. and many other glowing adjectives.   The distant every-flowing spring of support, perhaps even a little love, was what I thirsted for then.  I still do.

I quote myself, “Not that childhood was an idyl of happiness. We did have differences and quarrels from time to time. But more important was that we learned to “Kiss and make up”  The grace to share, to forgive is a treasure indeed.  Because of this, you are a part of me, not the least of which are the memories of our times together……I too was and am, blest by your friendship and I am trying to understand this completely”

Our relationship was not a secret one.  I did tell Marges about our getting re-acquainted and my hope to spend a few days with her.  Things were frosty for an hour or so but no more than that.  I was sure that Marge has or had external relationships as well which I accepted.

However, time passed and we had an explosive session with our family therapist.  In anger, I tore up my ticket for a flight to see Joanne.  Moving to the present, I have learned that women regard emotional infidelity more serious than physical infidelity.  Men the opposite.  However, Joanne satisfied emotional needs for me, needs which Marge did not, at least in that time.

A portion of Joanne lived in the fantasy world

Kim Anderson Art

 She loved Kim Anderson art, sort of kitsch for me, but symbolic.  She sent me a very similar card with the following commentary”Do you believe the photo on this card. Such are the pure, simple joys of childhood- dressing up and admiring the love of flowers (on the actual card) with a friend. Ah if life today were only that simple and pure.  When you come in the Spring we must”dress up” and admire the early Spring flowers together.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to recapture the delight of such simple pleasures, the wonders of discovery?”

I think I have said enough about the bond of childhood between Jo and I.  I did visit NY different times and always made a point of spending time with Joanne somewhere, not at her home.

She lived in a large stone house in Honeoye Falls, full of cats and just plain stuff.  Joanne would browse the thrift shops and buy anything that caught her fancy.  No need for photos, but the house was of this, that, and the other thing whatever it was. To me, it seemed she would rather read, watch a film on TV than be a neat decorator or even housekeeper.  She slept in the day and waked at night.   She was never on time for anything. For a 6:30 dinner date I would wait at the bar until about 8.  There she came verbally showering me with the reasons she couldn’t make it.  I learned to expect this, so OK.

Another part of the fantasy world was New Mexico the “Land of enchantment” She even asked me to see a house she wanted to buy in Lincoln, NM. I visited Larry and his girlfriend and we did go for a camping trip.  I added a day and went to Lincoln, the home of Billy The Kid. The house there was beautiful, two wings with a glass enclosure connecting them.  She eventually made, with a lawyer,  arrangement where the owner could still live in the house, she would send him monthly payments to cover the down payment.  Later, the man died, the money was not in an escrow account, he had spent it. She lost considerably and told me about it too late to contest the estate.

It became obvious to me that Joanne would never leave Honeoye falls, regardless of her so-called plans for New Mexico. Once it appeared that Marge and I might separate, but that didn’t happen.  JoAnne didn’t like Las Vegas, and I didn’t care to leave Marge, and move back to central NY and deal with the weather. Even if, I couldn’t live with Jo but could have a house in the village and we would get together now and then. Jo would have grandiose plans, that never materialized.

I was back in NY in 7/28/07, just after her birthday.  I dated her at a local restaurant/bar in Honeoye as a somewhat belated birthday dinner.  She gave me a lovely cat book and signed it “Love, your Dear, Dear Buddy, Joanne”.  We were dear friends, just of opposite gender.  Marge had difficulty understand and adjusting to this.  The last I saw Joanne was in the summer of 2009 when I made another trip East.  Joanne treated me to lunch at a special little privately owned sandwich shop. Of course, she was late, but I expected that. A goodbye kiss and that was the ending of the active part of a long renewed very caring friendship.

A cross-country relationship is hard to maintain over the 20+ years.  No goodbyes, just no calls or mail.  Marge’s cancer metastasized into terminal stage 4 for in 2010.   Any other relationships at all were out of the question. She died in 2012.

In 2014 two years had passed, my therapist aided me in my bereavement and I tried calling Joanne’s number.  I got a robotic answering machine message that told nothing.  With some difficulty, I was able to connect with her sister Judi.  She told me that Joanne was showing signs of dementia and would be moved to Plattsburgh.  She died in 2016.

Who am I? Robert (Bobby to Jo) Frantzen;

Western Bob 2015

Here is a 2015 photo of me.

I retired from what was then Nevada Power Co in 1993.  I have an AB and a BE from Syracuse University.  I met Marge there a couple years behind me. I have an MS from Binghamton University and a Professional Engineer license from PA.

Even as a child I was interested in making things, taking things apart to see how they worked, etc.  A good skill set for an engineer and statistician, not so good for social finesse.

I am thorough and cautious, I like to plan ahead seeing all the possible outcomes I could imagine.  So, impetuous, not devil-may-care and perhaps that has, and does limit me. I soak up facts and history like a sponge.  This has led to the professional lifestyle that suited me and also a satisfying comfortable retirement.

Marge and I had communication problems.  At different times she would try to explain something about herself to me.  I  would nod my head, say yes, but be clueless.  Obviously, this didn’t help our life together.  I didn’t have this problem with Joanne.  I believed, felt that she really understood me and I could be open, trusting, ever perhaps loving and she understood me.  Perhaps this was due to our growing up together, that’s my theory.

Now the two women who meant most to me in my life are dead.  They were both a bit younger than I; they age no longer.  I miss them both; together and individually.   Marge and I were truly together for 55 years.  Joanne and I were together as children, re-emerging as caring adults, best friends forever now as man and woman, bonded by childhood but not romantically inclined in our Senior years.

I am alone now with no real female interests.  Some occasional dates, but nothing serious.  The future might bring a big surprise, who knows. Who knows?


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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4 Responses to A Tale of Two Obituaries

  1. Allan T says:

    Hi Robert, as we were reading this post, Janice said, wow, Marge has been gone for 5 years. Time does fly quick. How are you holding up. I have spent the last few week, working early voting. Done it before, although this year was boring. Anyway, take care of yourself.

    • R. F. says:

      Hi Allan, I am doing OK, this post was an attempt to personally come to grips with the deaths of the two women who were so important to me in life. I occasionally have some bumps in the road, grief for each of them really, this was a way of sharing those memories of the two.
      EARLY VOTING: I started doing that, I think the year I retired.1994. There were punch cards then, hanging chads and all. I did one or maybe two seasons of voting, going all around the town for a few weeks. Then the first electronic voting with the huge screens and we had to stand between two of them and be helpers. I quit sometime when we lived here. I had a disagreement with the county appointed supervisor. She was not following the procedure we were taught and I thought, I believe correctly that I knew more than she did. So much for that. You take care too, both of you.

  2. Louise says:

    I can understand wanting to process things through writing, as that’s how my brain functions as well. I know you’ve been working through this in various stages for some time, and it must be hard to see so many people you knew and loved pass away. But I am proud of you for examining your feelings about it and being willing to express them. Not everyone of eight decades is so willing to do that! Love you!

    • R. F. says:

      Thanks Louise, that post was a do-it-yourself exercise in bereavement therapy. I think that it worked to some degree. Marge and Joanne, in that order, were the two women I loved and who loved me. Now they are both dead. I have memories, letters, etc. I could have done better in both relationships, but they lasted, though differently. My last therapy session concerned my bereavement bumps about Joanne’s death. Christine’s last remark was “Bob you were Joanne’s first boyfriend and also her last” I can’t explain it, but that was very helpful to me in bringing some closure.

      I love you and really appreciate your support in this long journey of mine. Dad

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