Frances Stephani Pierce
June 30, 1943-Nov. 9, 2018
Portola Valley, California
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Frances Stephani Pierce, our beautiful, loving, light-filled, cherished wife and mother, died November 9th at Half Moon Bay. She was 75.
She walked into the sea at Martin’s Beach, a final end to a harrowing and swiftly deepening depression brought on by bi-polar illness that had quite literally consumed her in the last two weeks of her life. Her family is stunned and heartbroken.
Frannie was born June 30, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Stephani Gallaher and Dr. John A. Gallaher, originally of Louisville, Kentucky and California, Missouri, respectively. She was raised in Walnut Creek, graduating from Las Lomas High School in 1961. She and her husband Bob Pierce met when both were teenagers in Walnut Creek, fell deeply and permanently in love, and married in 1965. Fifty-three years later, they still held hands at the movies.
She had a wonderful sense of humor and was always laughing. Bursting with life, to Frannie everything was the best thing she had ever eaten or the most gorgeous thing she had ever seen, and her grandchildren were the most brilliant people she had ever met. She loved her friends, speaking of them with immense affection.
For forty-five years, Frannie was an intensely committed and well-loved teacher in local public schools, teaching grades K through 12, and specializing in art, English, and history. She had sixth graders performing the Oresteia and lit her students up with her enthusiasm, whether they were six or 16.. Frannie held a M.A. in History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, focusing on Art Nouveau, and a second M.A. from San Francisco State University in English, focusing on Chaucer; both degrees were pursued while teaching. Her work ethic in everything she did was stupendous.
She loved art and art museums, literature, gardening, movies, and travel. She especially loved Paris, where she and Bob lived in 1966 and with their children in 1980. She was passionate about progressive politics. In books, Frannie particularly loved Chaucer, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf. She had a fascination with the ancient mother goddess religions and became an expert in the subject. She loved traveling to the archaic goddess sites that became Europe’s cathedrals and loved collecting goddess-inspired objects from around the world. She had a reverent love of annunciation paintings.
Frannie was profoundly generous and indefatigably giving in her love for her family. To say she was a devoted mother is a great understatement. Frannie’s love for her children and grandchildren inspired great feats of dedication that she would undertake constantly. She filled her children with confidence, making them feel capable of greatness.
She is survived by her husband Bob Pierce, of Portola Valley, her daughter Stephani Pierce Shanske of Davis, her son, Dr. Brendan Pierce, of Portola Valley, her son-in-law Darien Shanske, her daughter-in-law Dr. Lindsey Pierce, her grandchildren, Juliet and Catherine Pierce, and Margaret and Alexander Shanske, as well as her sister, Ruth Lisha, of Palo Alto.