Posted On December 7th, 2010 -


Born in 1917, Frances Helena Lum experienced ninety three wonderful years of life. The third oldest of twelve children, this remarkable woman will best be remembered for her many decades of educating young children in the state of Hawaii. With over forty years as an elementary school teacher, Frances started her career at St. Joseph school in Hilo and retired from Navy Hale Keiki school on Oahu. She touched the lives of hundreds of children, oftentimes from multiple generations. Known for her strict regimen, Frances pushed each child to strive for excellence and gave them a solid foundation from which they could build upon.

Also known for her exceptional work ethic, Frances did not stop once she retired. She continued to work in the school system well into her eighties. Those who knew her, knew that she was a woman that dedicated herself to her job. Sick leave was not an option as she got up each day, five days a week, before sunrise no matter what the circumstances.

Frances was at the head of a large family comprised of four children, eleven grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren. Though short in stature, her presence commanded respect. Loyal to her traditional values and beliefs, she expected those around her to understand and accept her ways. This is what everyone loved about her. She was perhaps the only person that would say exactly what was on her mind whether you wanted to hear it or not. Interestingly, some may characterize her comments as politically incorrect, but a bit of reflection would reveal that she was just brutally honest. Innovative in her thinking, what she said made sense and her interpretations were why people would confide in her and seek her advice.

Though traditional, Frances was fun. She defied the stereotype of being an old person with her highlighted hair, sport cars and trendy attire. Everyone that knew her loved her instantly. Her originality, her sense of humor, her strength and independence made people gravitate towards her.

In her spare time, she was an avid reader and just as much an avid golfer. Always a fan of soap operas, in her later years, she would drop everything to watch any Korean soap opera while sneaking in a diet Coke and chocolate bar.

The list of memories are endless. Her accolades, too numerous to mention. We will all remember Frances, Ma, Grandma, Aunty Frances, Teacher, Franny Bell and Ownes in our special way. In our minds, we can conjure up hours of memories. We can all hear her voice in our thoughts. We will laugh and we will cry but remember that she would expect each of us move on with our daily lives. Let us remember her for what she taught us, what she gave to us and how she helped shape who we are today.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran