Frances Kane Woerpel, 88, died on Jan. 20, 2018, at the Henrietta Brewer House in Vineyard Haven, after a short illness. She was born on Feb. 5, 1929, in Utica, N.Y. to Dorothy (née Markle) and Neil Kane.
Fran grew up on a small family dairy farm in Frankfort, N.Y., where both her mother and father had family roots going back generations. Fran graduated from Proctor High School in Utica in 1946, and earned a certificate in dental hygiene from Eastman Dental Dispensary in 1948.
In 1952 she married Robert Woerpel, and they settled in Rochester, N.Y., where they raised their family. Fran worked for many years as a nursing assistant in the Penfield school system. She was a devoted wife and mother, spending many hours helping with homework, especially spelling (never math!), and filling weekends with excursions to local museums, libraries, and parks. Fran was an avid reader, with a special interest in American history and tales of the Adirondacks and New England. She was also keenly aware of her own family history, spending years identifying and cataloging photos, letters, ledgers, diaries, and items passed down to her. This naturally led to an interest in early American antiques, with special focus on objects from everyday home life.
Fran and Bob came to Martha’s Vineyard in the late 1950s to visit her sister Marcia and husband Stuart Haley. Thus began many years of summer vacations. In the early 1970s they purchased a modest home in Vineyard Haven, where over the years they spent an increasing amount of time. In 2013 they moved from Rochester, making the Vineyard their permanent residence. Fran and Bob could often be seen walking from their home to town to enjoy an afternoon coffee and cookie, or at Eastville Beach, catching up on their reading.
Fran had a sharp wit and quick, if often sardonic, sense of humor, but was also caring and deeply committed to social justice and human rights.
Fran was predeceased by her husband. She is survived by her son David Woerpel of Salem, and daughter Karin Stanley and son-in-law Ted of West Tisbury. Her family members include Austin and Rosemary Haley, Paul and Julie Woerpel, Ron and Sylvania Woerpel, Marna Woerpel and Tom Van Ouse, Kathy O’Bryant and grand-nephews Justin Haley, Derek Woerpel, and grand-niece Allison Woerpel. Her family expresses deep gratitude to the gentle caring staff at the Henrietta Brewer House, Horizon Geriatrics, and Hope Hospice. No services are planned.