On Monday Frankie Hall’s niece, Paige French, called to let us know that Frankie had passed away peacefully in her home on Saturday morning, May 20th. She had been diagnosed with cancer over a year ago and in typical Frankie fashion, she called it “kudzu.” Always full of dry wit and a positive outlook, she said, “When you have 91+ trips around the sun, you are bound to have at least one bumpy one…” A bumpy 2016 didn’t deter her from working on a massive table built from a 95-year-old white oak tree that fell in her front yard. She sent it to the sawmill and then spent months building it in her woodshop with friends. Frankie also had built a new pulpit for camp’s Woodland Chapel which was unveiled at the 95thc anniversary reunion at camp in 2015.
Frankie directed Illahee from 1969 to 1984, and for the past several months held court in her Leicester NC home with a steady stream Illahee girls – now women visiting. At over 90 years, Frankie had attended the last camp reunion sharing stories and inspiring us and walking around camp and to McLeod lodge. She had only recently retired her golf clubs. Active on Facebook and a follower of our daily summer blog, Frankie stayed connected. She often wrote to us commenting on camp news and cheering us on.
Frankie never forgot the pressure felt by a camp director and would encourage us. Last summer on closing day, she congratulated us for a successful summer and then astutely noted- “Closing day… the happiest day of the year and the saddest day of the year.” She also had instructed her family that she would like to have a Memorial Service at camp, but NOT during camp. Ever practical, she knew camp is about campers. (A Memorial Service for her friends and family will be held on August 13th at 2pm.)
A few months ago, I was organizing the bookshelves in the Curtis office. I had gathered all of Frankie’s books to group them together in one area. She had a vast collection of nature resources; activity instruction and camp training manuals, and I was impressed with her depth of influence in the camping industry and her knowledge. Going through her books gave me insight into camp director Frankie and I felt like I was visiting her in that time rather than in 2017. Her strong sports background was influential at camp. In fact, just before her passing, she was honored by Florida State University where she had taught for 20 years and had been the coach for the first women’s track team.
We have been touched by Frankie and will miss her messages and enthusiasm greatly. But I take heart in one of her notes that lives on as does her legacy at Illahee.
Congratulations on another safe, successful and fun summer.
The dream lives on.
Best to you.
Closing Day 2015