Kendra LaDow Frakes


Kendra LaDow Frakes of Vineyard Haven died on April 26, 2016, on Cape Cod. She was 64.

Kendra was born August 16, 1951, in Sun Valley, Calif., to Dow and Jewell (Christopher) Frakes. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and enjoyed all that Southern California had to offer. Her father passed away when she was 11, and she became ever closer to her mother, eventually as her primary caregiver. She was an endlessly devoted daughter for the rest of her mother’s life. Though she had no siblings, she was close to her many cousins, who lived not only in California, but in Arizona, Texas, and other parts of the United States. She is remembered as a fun and friendly playmate by her California cousins, as well as for her telephone, and later, email correspondence with those who were out of state.

Graduating from Francis Polytechnic Senior High School in Sun Valley in 1969, Kendra embarked on employment as a receptionist and phone operator. It was her long employment as a switchboard operator at NBC Studios that brought joy to her in work, and very close to the Hollywood celebrities she so enjoyed. During that time, she also worked as assistant to several stars, managing their fan club correspondence. Always ready to give her own private tour of NBC and include a lunch in the studio commissary, a special “Kendra Tour” far surpassed the tours provided for the public.

At her mother’s death, coupled with a reorganization of NBC, Kendra was determined to fulfill a lifelong dream of living on Martha’s Vineyard. And she did. Moving to the Island in 1999, Kendra was happy with her new Island life, and she landed a job as a police dispatcher. Kendra would lightheartedly tell how she did not last through the training program, because she could not decipher the New England or Boston accents on many of the incoming calls. Good things were in store for her, though, and when she was hired by the Vineyard Gazette as receptionist she was ecstatic. The newspaper environment was just her style, and she worked there for nearly a decade. During that time she also had other part-time jobs. One was at Good Dog Goods, and the other was as weekend receptionist for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. This combination of employment kept Kendra happy as she extended her warm personality to the public, and made many friends along the way.

A member of the Church of Christ, attending the Sepulveda congregation during her time in California, Kendra found a home at the Cape Cod Church of Christ, and helped form the group that now meets on the island. Her favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

An avid reader, Kendra was also an accomplished writer of short stories, articles, essays, and always in process with the Great American Novel. She also loved to converse with people, and while her list of friends throughout the U.S. was extensive, she also never met a stranger, adding to that “inventory” near daily. A joyous free spirit with a huge heart, Kendra’s capacity for love and friendship was endless. It also extended to dogs, including her beloved companions, Scotty and Hollee.

Kendra was preceded in death by her parents, Dow and Jewel Frakes, as well as beloved family members and friends, and her canine companions. She is survived by many cousins and innumerable friends. Kendra was an exceptionally loyal family member and friend, whose faith in God and zest for life will be her legacy.

A memorial gathering to honor the life of Kendra LaDow Frakes will be held this Saturday, June 4, at the Island Inn, Beach Road, Oak Bluffs.

Her friends and family would especially like to thank Artie Shaffer and Emily Coggins and their families for their friendship and unceasing care of Kendra over the past six years, both true examples of a servant’s spirit.