Fran Dean was married for 58-½ years to her husband. If you’re counting at home, that’s 702 months; 3,053 weeks; 21,369 days; 30.77 million minutes.
In simpler terms, a long time.
Dean is as Texas as they come, and that’s a compliment. She was born in Athens, home of “First Mondays” 85 years ago and lived there until she got married. She and her sweetheart’s’ college years were interrupted by the Korean War, but when he returned from military action, they settled in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, where they lived for a number of years.
Dean worked in the finance office at Lackland Air Force Base, while her husband, upon finishing his degree, went out and found employment as a social worker. He eventually took a job at the VA hospital in Dallas, the shining metroplex of North Texas, and the pair spent another 13 years before finally retiring comfortably to Bonham, which is so Texan that it’s named for one hero of the Alamo (James Bonham) who was the aide to another hero (James Fannin). As it happens, Bonham is the county seat for Fannin County.
Along the way, the pair had time for four children - two sons who graduated from Texas A&M, a daughter who earned a degree at Baylor, and another daughter who got right to work on producing some grandbabies, and gave the Deans six of them in due time.
It was the perfect life in retirement for Dean until her husband passed away 7-½ years ago and she started feeling the ravages of time without even noticing they were there.
“When he passed away, I remained in my home for another 5-½ years,” she says. “I was content to spend the rest of my life there, but I had some back surgery and it was difficult for my children, both those in state and out of state to come take care of me.”
One of the pitfalls of retiring to a small Texas town - Bonham’s population is only now reaching 10,000 - is that is also lacks the big things we need now and again like airports and medical centers. The closest to the Deans’ place were in Dallas, 70 miles away.
“We decided that I should move closer to one of the children, and we selected Houston because one of my daughters is in the area.”
Thus came Fran Dean to the Conservatory at Champions Forest in Spring, about 15 miles north of downtown Houston. And when she arrived, she was shocked to realize what she had missed most of all in previous 5-½ years.
“I found it to be a very good change all the way around, and the one thing I didn’t realize was how lonely I was,” she said. “In those previous 5-½ years, I had been invited to speak at a number of ladies’ conferences so it seemed like I was always preparing material for that rather than doing anything for myself.”
Stretching her legs at the Conservatory - quite literally - Dean found a world of possibilities stretching out in front of her, having just walked in the door from a line dancing class in time for the interview. And when she’s not socializing or exercising, she’s receiving visits from any assortment of her four children, 16 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
“I’ve made a lot of new friends, I’ve got a nice apartment, all in all it’s a very good place to be and I enjoy it very much,” Dean sums up. “They have more things to offer than what you have time for. Some of my friends back home say, ‘What do you do there all day?’ and I laugh and say everything!”