Frances Salak died at home Saturday October 4, 2008, just short of her 73rd birthday, on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, her namesake. All of her children were present.
She was born October 25, 1935 to Italian immigrant parents Marco and Rosa Leonardi in Washington, D.C.; christened Francesca; called Francie by her four siblings and close friends; Aunt Frannie by her eleven nieces and nephews; later Fran by her friends; and of course Mom by her children and Mema by her grandchildren.
Fran married her high school sweetheart, Tom Salak and spent 20 years traveling the globe as an Army wife, raising their children in Asmara, Germany, and on Okinawa, where she worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, and was a regular on bowling leagues and road rallies with her husband.
State-side, she and her family lived in Massachusetts, Virginia and finally Hope Mills, North Carolina where Fran was active in local politics, her children’s Band Boosters club, Brownies, Cub Scouts, the Hope Mills Beautiful Commission, and the Good Shepherd Catholic Church which she helped found and build.
In Fayetteville, Fran worked for 25 years at JC Penny’s, where the Bed and Bath Shop became a popular stop for her children’s friends to catch up on each other’s families. She and her close friends from work, known as “The Grannies”, enjoyed many years together.
A couple of years after her retirement, Fran began experiencing signs of dementia and moved to Chapel Hill to live with her daughter and then her son, where she loved volunteering at the N.C. Botanical Gardens, exercising at Sallie’s Seniors Workout Group at the Chapel Hill Senior Center, and going to the Charles House adult care center in Carrboro.
She was predeceased by her loving parents; her sister Mary Waidman; two brothers, Dominic and Marco Tony; two nephews, Billy and Bobby; and many beloved close friends.
She will be remembered and missed by many loving friends and her family including Mrs. Dominic Leonardi Witty of Lanham, MD; Mr. William Bill Waidman of California, MD; Mrs. Marco Leonardi Maureen of Beltsville, MD: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Leonardi of Westminster, MD; her former husband, Thomas Tom and his wife Roberta Robbi Salak of Edenton, NC; her six children: Thomas Chip Salak and his wife Sherry of Columbia, SC; Rosemary Salak of Alexandria, VA; Virginia Bunny Mann and her husband Niles of Mebane, NC; and Girard Jerry Salak, Linda Bennett and her husband Harry, and Lisa Salak of Chapel Hill, NC; ten grandchildren; and her cat, Baby, who has been her devoted companion for the past 12 years.
Friends may visit with the family on Wednesday, October 8, 2008, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, at Griffin Funeral Home, 396 West St., Pittsboro, NC. The funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 pm, Thursday, October 9, 2008 at Christ United Methodist Church, 800 Market Street Southern Village, Chapel Hill, with Rev. Tom Sanford and Rev. Hannah McManus presiding. The family will also greet friends from 12:00 – 12:45 pm Thursday in the narthex of the church. Following the funeral service, interment will be held in the Chapel Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to Charles House Association 109 Hillcrest Ave, Carrboro, NC 27510 in memory of Fran Salak, for the development of a residential care home where older adults can live safely and comfortably in a neighborhood community.
Arrangements are under the care of Griffin Funeral Service of Pittsboro.