ALEXANDRIA - Frances Marion (Ashby) Wright, 85, left her beloved family and devoted friends peacefully and painlessly at 9:10 a.m., Oct. 22, 2010.
She was born in Newport News, Va., and lived her first five years at 212 50th Street, a short distance from the shipyard, moving in 1930 to a home built by her parents on the banks of the James River a half mile north of Hilton Village. She attended Hilton Elementary School and Morrison High School and graduated from Newport News High School in 1942. She worshiped with her family at Grace Methodist Church (now Noland Memorial United Methodist Church).
Frances graduated from Maryville College with a B.A. in music in 1946, taught piano in the family home for a year and then was a teacher at the grade school she had attended, Hilton Elementary, for several years. She taught at Erie School in Olive Hill, Ky., from 1950 to 1952 and later at Weyanoke Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va.
Frances met her husband, Dr. John W. "Jack" Wright, on a canoe trip in Canada in 1955. Jack became a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and Frances continued to teach. After their marriage they became the happy and loving parents of two children, Marion and Fred. Their home in Accokeek, Md., was built for their shared love of music and folk dancing, and was the site of many happy gatherings featuring friendship, music and dancing. Frances and Jack loved the natural world and enjoyed a variety of adventures, from raising Nubian goats, to cycling with Marion and Fred on vacations in such disparate landscapes as Prince Edward Island, Canada, the mountains of New Hampshire and the lowlands of Florida.
Tragically, Frances and Fred lost Jack and Marion to an automobile accident in November of 1978. Supported by her deep love of Fred, the members of Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, and her family and friends, Frances built a full and happy life. She traveled widely and often, surrounding herself with music. She was instrumental in organizing the Davies Concert Series at her church, a series that continues to sponsor five or six concerts each year. In 1993 she accompanied a friend, a violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra, to Russia and heard it play Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture in Red Square.
Frances shared every space she ever lived in, and many were the grateful recipients of her kindness. Last year, after moving to a retirement home and no longer able to host the annual evening of holiday music in her own home, some of her friends brought their musical instruments and held a holiday sing with her in the retirement home. One friend played the piano that Frances had given to the home when she moved there in the spring of 2009.
Frances leaves her son, Fred Wright, her daughter-in-law, Kim, and her grandson, Jack. She also leaves her sisters, Margaret Williams of Lexington, Va., and Lillia McCracken of San Jose California; and her brother, Ted Ashby, of Fairfax, Va.; as well as many nieces and nephews, and friends too numerous to count.
A memorial service will be held at Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, 7400 Temple Hill Road, Camp Springs, MD 20748, at 2 p.m., Nov. 7, 2010.
Memorial gifts may be directed to organizations of your choosing or to Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church or to the Davies Concert Series at the above address. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.