Memories of Fran Angevine - Hinnant
1947 - 2002
Fran Hinnant never bought a healthy plant. She always picked the ones that needed some extra time and attention.
If a snake ventured into her well-manicured garden or a cricket hopped its way into her house, they were never killed. Fran always found them a safe home.
She even once adopted a wild raccoon and kept him fed until he was strong enough to return to the wild.
"You can see how it was hard to hold a candle to this woman," said her husband, Steve. " I honestly can't say that she had any faults."
A gentle and nurturing soul whose maternal instincts were as strong for plants and animals as they were for her own children, Fran passed away Aug 15, 2002, after a lengthy period of illness. She was 54 years old.
"The best thing that probably ever happened to me was her." Steve said last week, exactly 33 years after their wedding day. I've never known anyone like her.
"She was my love"
One of nine children born to Air Force lieutenant colonel, Fran was a bright and beautiful young woman when she first met her husband.
Both were students, working together part time near Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
"I didn't know if it was love at first sight but we started dating, from about the first day we met." Steve said. "She was this gorgeous blonde with brown eyes and I was absolutely breathless."
Shortly after the couple's wedding, Steve was drafted, and Fran - who was accustomed to the military way of life - began traveling with her husband from base to base.
"She was well traveled, well versed, and she knew how to pack a suitcase," Steve said. "She taught me a whole lot about it."
At every assignment, from Georgia to Germany and from Texas to Virginia, Fran was awarded "Quarters of the month" by the brass on the base for the gardening and land-scaping she did around the family's home.
"She never met a plant that she couldn't get back to life," Steve said.
Fran loved caring for children. And worked for a period of time managing a day care center.
In fact, she worked right up until two hours before the birth of the couple's second child, their daughter, Christina.
After that, Fran's top priority became raising the little girl and her big brother, John.
"She just loved taking care of the children," Steve said. "Her biggest thrills came from cooking for them and teaching them and watching them grow up."
The Hinnants were lucky enough not to need a second income, and though Steve asked his wife repeatedly whether she would like to focus more attention on her career, Fran preferred to stay home.
"This is my place," she told him. "This is where I want to be."
It thrilled her later in life to see how John, who as a boy " had to separate his peas from his mashed potatoes," went on to become a doctor.
And young Christina went on to run a lucrative chicken farm in Alabama - so lucrative, in fact, that she was able to buy her parents a new car.
"That's when you know you're getting old," laughed Steve.
A great communicator, Fran was passionate about keeping close ties with her friends and family.
Her Christmas card list usually topped 250 names, and she was always writing a letter to someone - whether it was to send them birthday wishes, to congratulate them on new jobs, or just to say hello.
"The contact she had with people was extraordinary," Steve said. "As busy as life got, she always made time."
"That was the simple kind of thing that she took pleasure in."
Whether it was an old friend or a door to door salesman, Fran always had time to chat.
In addition to gardening, Fran enjoyed knitting and making gifts for her friends.
"I told her that she ought to go into business because she made such beautiful things," Steve said."But she said, No, I want to do this for my friends"
Over the final few years of her life, Fran's health began to deteriorate.
Years earlier, a chemical called diazinon that she had been using in the care of some of her tropical plants had gotten into her bloodstream -- then evetually into her brain -- through a cut in her hand.
As a result, she had to take a variety of medications. She was unaware however, that the drugs would destroy her kidneys.
Though her tissue and veins grew weak to the point that her nasal passages weren't strong enough for her to breathe, Fran stayed in good spirits.
"She never complained. She never really worried," Steve said. "She just believed that everything was going to be OK."
"She always told me, It doesn't matter what you know or what you think you know because someone else is really in charge," Steve said. "You just do what you think is right and things will take care of themselves ."
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