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Obituary of Frances Van Kirk
Frances Elizabeth Root Van Kirk, 96, of Phelps, died December 28, 2019, at Clifton Springs Nursing Home. Mrs. Van Kirk was born in 1923 in Auburn, NY, the daughter of Arthur Pier Root and Delia Lathrop Ross Root. Many of her earlier memories involved good times spent with her grandparents in Cooperstown, NY. She was a Red Cross-certified lifeguard and spent many an hour swimming in and across Otsego Lake. She was a graduate of Lockport High School. In 1943 she traveled to Greenville, SC to marry Mart W. Van Kirk, who was serving in the Army Air Corps. Fran supported the war effort as a riveter (like Rosie!) at Curtiss-Wright Corporation in Buffalo. Later during the war she worked for Western Union in San Diego, arranging travel and funds for soldiers on short leaves home from the Pacific theater. After the war ended, the Van Kirk family grew and moved from Lockport to Stittville and finally to Phelps in 1960. Frannie returned to the workforce at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, eventually serving as department administrator for what became the Department of Horticultural Science. She retired in 1984. She served the community including long-time treasurer at the First Presbyterian Church/United Church of Phelps, and on the Phelps and Midlakes School Boards. She was Board President when the Phelps and Clifton Springs districts merged and the new high school was built in the early 1970s. She is survived by her children Judith (John Lippitt) of Madison, WI, Mart Jr. (Marilyn DeRuyter) of Phelps, NY, Janet (James) Throne of Manhattan, KS, and James (Hedy Hollyfield) of Raleigh, NC; son-in-law David Vittum; might-as-well-be daughter Dorothy Van Kirk Wotan; AFS child George Stamatiou; stepmother June Root of Lockport, NY; sister-in-law Barbara Van Kirk of Seneca Falls, NY; grandchildren Scott Vittum, Megan Malan, Sarah Stewart, Amy Van Kirk, Emma Van Kirk, Kelsey Van Kirk, Evan Throne, Anna Holbrook, Brett Van Kirk, Zachary Van Kirk and Kiersten Weissinger; several great grandchildren, grandsons/granddaughters-in-law, nieces and nephews. She is also survived by a collection of much loved exes and outlaws: James Stewart, Peggy Van Kirk, Penny Van Kirk, John Walton, and Kathy Pedersen. Mrs. Van Kirk was predeceased by her husband Mart Van Kirk; brothers Arthur P. Root, Jr. and Robert L. Root; daughter Jean Vittum; and grandson Ian Stewart. She was also predeceased by friends Jane & Richard Kraham (Richard introduced Mart & Fran); Rod & Gin Conrad; Bill and Marge Staring; Morrie & Wini Vittum; and Willard & Alice Robinson who were all as important to her as her family. Fran spent a lifetime making and keeping good friends, who will miss her kindness, intelligence, sense of humor, and quick wit. There will be no calling hours. A memorial service will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Phelps Community Food Cupboard, 8 Banta St., Phelps NY 14532, or to the Phelps Memorial Library at the same address.
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