Francy Gronewald, 87, passed away snuggled beside her loving husband Harry, Saturday, January 18th. She was daughter to Evelyn and Lawrence; sister to Blanche, Betty, and Charlotte; mother to Denise, Curt, Ken, and Terez; grandmother to Heather, Sarah, Scott, Stella, Claire, Elise, Erin, Hannah and Henry; great-grandmother to Ada, Isabel and Alana; mother-in-law to Carrie, Charlier, Peggy, Katherine, and Peter; and loved by many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
The youngest of four sisters, Francy graduated high school two years early, forged her birth certificate and joined the Air Force at the age of 16. Each of three sisters joined a separate branch of the US Military Service in hopes that Francy’s deception would remain secret. It did not.
When offered a position in the Crypto division of the Pentagon, she tried to turn it down; it required a security clearance check. Her CO did it anyway and was shocked to learn that after over a year in the service, she was still underage. He “misplaced her file” for the next four months, and she remained the youngest Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. He would be disappointed when she married Harry and retired a year or so later.
In July of 1952, Harry reluctantly allowed a military buddy to set him up on a blind date with his wife’s little sister, Francy. Six days later, each returned from Enid OK to their separate stations, and Harry sent his new fiancé an engagement ring in the mail. They were married November 1, 1952 at a little chapel in Arlington. She was 19 and embarking on a lifelong series of adventures with Harry Lee Gronewald and extended family and friends throughout the USA and abroad. By the time Francy was 29, she had four kids, and while she accomplished many things in her life, she often said being a mother was her greatest joy.
As an officer’s wife, Francy and her family moved 12 times in 22 years, and she was a magician at making each place both a home and an exciting experience. She shared her passions for painting, music, theater, books, pets, cooking, meeting new people and fearless exploration.
She became a tax consultant and a real estate agent, supported her kids in Scouts, arts, sports events, ballet, choral and piano recitals, music lessons, school bands, horseback riding lessons and equestrian competitions all over the state of Ohio.
Francy was absolutely thrilled to see her kids raise babies of their own. She traveled across the world to Switzerland and then just across the Puget Sound to help her daughters care for their newborns. A devoted and involved grandmother, she loved her grandkids immensely, and shared many of her passions with them: reading and painting, attending the Nutcracker ballet, hiking and exploring nature, shopping, celebrating Christmas, baking for family gatherings, digging for clams and building driftwood forts. She followed and celebrated her grandchildren’s interests, joys, and achievements, and she was so very proud of her growing family.
Her infectious laugh, dry sense of humor and compassion will be cherished by her friends and family. She taught by example to show up for those you love and to champion and support others. Although she suffered from a number of chronic health issues and pain in her later life, she retained her sense of humor and compassion and her stubborn will. . . the latter a challenge at times.
Perhaps the greatest gift she shared with us all was the example of unconditional love she and Harry demonstrated in their 66 years of marriage. They were inseparable up to the very end. It has been so beautiful to watch Harry and Francy live life so fully. A special thanks to all those who have helped care for her as she transitioned from Port Ludlow to Seattle and beyond. We especially thank Crista’s loving staff and her devoted grandchildren for surrounding Francy with loving kindness to the end.
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