FRANCES MARY SHELFANTOOK
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June 15, 1913 - January 17, 2020
Frances Mary Shelfantook died peacefully on the evening of January 17, 2020 at her home in Rainycrest at the age of 106.
She was born on a homestead in Northern Minnesota on June 15, 1913 to Horace M. Carnahan and Anna Beckman. Her family moved to the Stratton area in 1917 and she forever considered herself a proud Canadian, although many of the immigration officers she encountered over the years begged to differ. The Carnahan family moved to Fort Frances in 1927 in part because Anna, still grieving from the loss of daughter Vera from peritonitis, wanted to be closer to medical care, and because of the schooling needs of the growing family.
After high school, Francie, as she was known by her family, received numerous awards upon graduation. It was the depth of the Depression and jobs were scarce. University was out of the question, since the Carnahans were not people of means. Normal School (aka Teachers’ College) was free except for room and board, and Horace managed to scrape up the necessary money to send Francie off to North Bay, Ontario. Upon the completion of Normal School, Francie was fortunate enough to land a teaching position in Flanders, Ontario, the site of a lumber camp. It was there where she met her future husband, Bill Shelfantook, who was the camp clerk. They eloped to Winnipeg after 3 years, and in 1943, they moved to Fort Frances with their young daughter, Linda.
Francie threw herself into parenting, homemaking, sewing, and knitting. In 1946, the family welcomed William Edward Jr. It was a busy but fulfilling time. As the children were growing up and Linda was leaving the nest, Mal Steele approached Francie to see if she would be interested in going back to teaching. Hesitant at first, after discussing it with Bill over the tea leaves, she decided to do so. This led to a 20-year career, which also propelled her into going back to University, taking evening and summer courses until she was finally able to receive her BA in English from Lakehead University. The only one prouder on graduation day was Horace Carnahan who had lived to see his daughter get her diploma.
In 1960, another momentous occasion took place when Lynn Prior came to live with the family. He took to the Shelfantooks like a duck to water, and the family felt so fortunate to have him.
Francie and Bill enjoyed retirement at their cabin on Rainy Lake and numerous trips to visit the kids, always helping with home improvements. Bill died in 1984 on his 82nd birthday, and Frances was left bereft. She missed him terribly but was determined to go on as her independent self. She kept herself busy with international travel, church work, bible study, writing groups, and genealogy. Out of her love for that, she began writing a book about her Swedish great-grandmother, Sophia. In 2011, she published Sophia’s Journey, followed by Emma’s Story in 2013, and Anna and Her Children in 2014.
Frances moved to Rainycrest in 2012 and enjoyed life there very much. She was an engaged participant in many of the activities, and she remained active until her health no longer permitted.
She was predeceased by husband Bill Shelfantook, sons John Michael and William, grandson Neil Shelfantook, her parents, brothers, and sisters.
She is survived by her daughter Linda LaFrance (Guy), son Lynn Prior (Linda), and daughter-in-law Nora Shelfantook; grandchildren Lisa McGee (John Salzman), Kevin LaFrance (Jannaya), Aileen Abbott (Dan), Warren Shelfantook (Jamie), Bryan Shelfantook, Chris and Brad Prior; great-grandchildren Kelly and Molly McGee, Corbin, Katelyn, and Cameryn LaFrance, Berkley, Finley, and Vanna Abbott.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Rainycrest who took such good and loving care of Frances during her long residence there. You do the work of angels.
A memorial service will be held in the summer. Date to be announced at a later time.
Northridge Funeral Home in Emo is in charge of arrangements. Cremation has been chosen.
In memoriam donations can be made to Knox United Church or Riverside Health Care.