Frances W. Field

Last modified: 1/30/2011 12:00:00 AM
LEBANON - Frances W. Field, 95, died peacefully at Harvest Hill in Lebanon on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011.

Fran was born March 17, 1915, at the home of her grandparents in Cleveland, Ohio, the first child of Gladys P. McNairy and Philip T. White.

She was a trailblazer and champion of public welfare, beginning at age 4 with her role as redheaded mascot of the Matoon, Ill., fire department. A yearlong battle with osteomyelitis at age 12 inspired Fran's life-long involvement with nursing and a deeply held spiritual life.

Fran graduated from Vassar College in 1936 and, after receiving a master's in nursing from Case Western Reserve, worked for the Henry Street Settlement House in New York City as a public health nurse. She married Albert S. Field Jr. in 1940.

World War II took Albert to North Africa as a physician with the Army's Airborne Engineers. Fran, pregnant with their first child, lived with her mother until her husband's return in 1945. An avid writer with fine penmanship, Fran later published her war-time correspondence with Albert in the book Letters From Home. After the war, they raised three children in Wallingford, Conn.

Albert died in 1962 and Fran, at age 47, returned to work as a public health nurse in Wallingford. She soon after became director of the local agency. In 1967, after her children had left home, she relocated to Hanover to accept a job at Mary Hitchcock Hospital as its first discharge planner. She later went on to work at Dartmouth Medical School, bringing her community health perspective to the curriculum as the first nurse hired to the Medical School faculty. She helped found Hospice of the Upper Valley as well as the Upper Valley Land Trust. After retirement, she moved to farmland in Lebanon, and along with younger friends established the first registered organic farm in Grafton County. In 1996, she moved to Harvest Hill, an assisted living community whose management, caring and congeniality she appreciated so much.

Always rising to a challenge, Fran enjoyed the daily Sudoku puzzle in the Valley News and remained a devoted fan of opera and of the Red Sox to the end of her life.

Fran is survived by her children, Sarah (Agoura Hills, Calif.), Rebecca (Concord) and Allyn (Lebanon); six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Donations in her memory may be sent to the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, 60 Benning St., W. Lebanon 03784; or Upper Valley Land Trust, 19 Buck Road, Hanover 03755).

Memorial services will be announced.

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