Mary Frances Zahm Price was born July 29, 1915 just outside of Hallowell, Cherokee County, Kansas. She was the eldest child of Clark Henry Zahm and Marion Emily Carpenter Zahm. She is survived by her daughter, Carol Ann Price Works of Melbourne, Florida, her son, John Ralph Price of Madison, Wisconsin, her sister, Janet Louise Zahm Bailey of Wichita, Kansas, as well as three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren in California and Germany.
Mrs. Price lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in Western Kansas. She raised two children, designed and sewed her daughter’s wedding dress, traveled to be with her daughter for the births of her grandchildren including a flight to Germany with an unexpected stop-over in Ireland due to undisclosed engine troubles, and designed and sewed the wedding dresses for her granddaughters.
Growing up the eldest daughter of a farming family in Columbus, Frances liked to play outside and would, on occasion, go out to the fields when something interesting was going on. When a combine came around there was plenty to see! One day her father explained to her that he preferred his daughter to stay out of the fields. Women’s work was keeping the house but field work was men’s work. She then went on to become proficient in the womanly arts of churning butter, collecting eggs and cutting fat from around pig innards to make this into leaf lard, known by the country’s best pastry makers as the key to making flaky pie crusts.
One of her earliest memories is from when she was just a few years old. Frances’s parents took a horse and buggy, packed the family up and drove from Hallowell into Columbus, Kansas to see a once-in-a-lifetime event. Soldiers, returning from WWI, got off the train and rode a streetcar into town, getting off at the main square in Columbus. Frances's father held her on his shoulders so she could see the troops in their uniforms!
She attended a one-room school house about one mile north of home. She walked there every day except if it was too wet or too cold and then an uncle would drive her. The school was often packed with 20-30 kids, back when the families who lived there had four to five kids each.
Frances meet her future mate while still in high school. Although she had received a scholarship from Pittsburg State Teacher’s College in Pittsburg, Kansas, she chose to marry the love of her life, Ralph Donald Leroy Price, in 1933.
They moved to Leoti in western Kansas before moving on to Salina, Kansas. They fixed up their basement into an apartment for families of the pilots stationed at Shilling Air Force Base who were there flying the B29’s.
Onwards they went to Madison, Wisconsin, living there for many years. They had a washing machine in the basement of the apartment house in which they lived but she had to walk down six floors to get to it. It was either that or use one of the open laundries out in the neighborhood. Frances made all her daughter’s clothes after Carol had picked the styles she preferred out of magazines. She was the most stylish girl around! For a short while Frances worked as a professional seamstress, making the wardrobe of Mrs Frank Lloyd Wright until her son, John, complained that the house just wasn’t friendly when Mother wasn’t there.
After living for a spell in Chicago, Illinois, Ralph’s company sent him to head the Planned Parenthood Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964-1965. Then followed a spell in Indiana before finally returning to Kansas, settling in Leawood, where she volunteered for the Kansas City Convention Center where her husband worked. A long year after the death of her beloved husband, Frances decided it was best to live near her daughter’s family in California, remaining in Livermore until she followed Carol out to Florida in 1999.
Frances maintained her own home in Melbourne, driving until the ripe age of 90, refusing to get household help until she got her hip replaced when she was 92. Even at 99 she was still cooking her own meals by chopping the meat and freezing it in single servings for future use.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on April 17, 2017 at the Park Cemetery in Columbus, Kansas.