Rae Ellen Francis died peacefully on August 15 at the Hock Family Pavilion in Durham. She was born August 13, 1947 in Erie, PA, where she grew up, graduating from Strong Vincent High School in 1965. She spent many summers at her Aunt Grace and Uncle David’s home in the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. Rae Ellen attended Grove City College, but her passion was to be a flight attendant. She received her “wings” from American Airlines in 1969, and was based in New York City until her marriage to her husband of 41 years, Bill, in 1972. Bill was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army stationed in Stuttgart, Germany where the young couple began their life together.
Rae Ellen loved life and the many friends she made along the way. All knew her for her strong faith, warm smile and joyful laugh. Having lived in six states and two countries, she enjoyed travel. She and Bill saw much of Europe as campers, then much of the US east coast and Caribbean islands as cruising sailors. Rae Ellen was a pre-school teacher for 26 years, most of them with Westminster Kindergarten in Durham. She was very active as a volunteer serving with Meals-on Wheels, Southlake, TX Senior Citizens, National Charity League, and Women’s International Bible Study
Fellowship, among others. Rae Ellen loved cooking and entertaining friends and family in her warm and welcoming homes. She especially loved her flowers, birds, sea life and just being around any water. She was a devoted wife and mother and coveted every moment with her precious grandchildren. Above all, Rae Ellen loved her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was a long time member of Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church in Durham, where she shared her gift of service with the Women’s Guild. She completed 14 years of study with Women’s Bible Study Fellowship.
Rae Ellen was the daughter of John and Helen Walter, who preceded her in death. She is survived by her loving husband, Bill; her daughter, Abigail Schmidt David of Rhome, TX; two sisters, Lynn Schneider Arthur of Cary and Deborah Marsh Harold of Edinboro, PA; three grandchildren, Joshua, Joseph and Kimber Schmidt of Rhome, TX and a host of other relatives.
A memorial service will be held 2:00 PM Saturday at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1902 Perry St., with a reception following the service in the church Fellowship Hall.
Bill wishes to sincerely thank everyone who so dearly touched Rae Ellen’s life, especially the loving thoughts, prayers and gestures in these last difficult years.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Duke Home Care and Hospice or the Duke Cancer Institute. Arrangements are with Hall-Wynne Funeral Service & Crematory. On-line memorials: hallwynne.com