Frances Irene Kludt, 97, passed away peacefully on July 31, 2018. She lived the last one and a half years of her life at Bristol Heights Assisted Living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The three and a half years prior were with her daughter, Donna, and son-in-law, Bill Messenger at their home south of Coeur d’Alene.
Frances was born Aug. 23, 1920, near Terry, Mont. She hiked to a one-room-school for first through eighth grades. Her family had no automobile, so she lived in a boarding house in order to attend high school in Terry. She described herself as shy and she dressed in old clothing. Kids made fun of her until they realized she was an excellent student and could tutor them! Later, she went to business college in Billings, Mont. Early work experiences include working in an insurance office and two different law offices.
While visiting her sister in Kamiah, she met her husband-to-be at a dance. She and Virgil were married Feb. 3, 1942. They moved to the family ranch near Kamiah (Glenwood) and resided there until 1979. Virgil was a rancher and logger, and Frances was a housewife and mother to a daughter, Donna, and twin boys, David and Darold. She was part of that hard-working, “do-it-yourself” generation with few conveniences. She carried wood, read by lantern light, helped take care of pigs and chickens and milked eight cows. Early years in Idaho were similar. Cooking on the wood stove, washing clothes using the old wringer wash machine, pumping water by hand and trudging to the “two-seater” outhouse were just all part of life. How thrilled she was when electricity became a reality in the late ‘40s.
In the fall of 1950 the couple bought a home in Clarkston, Wash., where the children would complete their public education. They also purchased another ranch near Clarkston (up Asotin Creek) where their cattle would be wintered. From ‘50 through ‘62, they did a lot of commuting on weekends. They lived at Glenwood each summer.
Frances loved being a mother. Her children always knew she was there for them in every way. She and Virgil never missed a ball game or activity in which the kids participated. She loved music, played the piano by ear and was determined her kids would have music lessons. Those kids soon realized that if they played tunes together each evening, Mom would do the dishes. Great system!
She was a super hostess, and visitors were always welcome. Virgil and Frances played cards throughout the years, but bridge topped the list. They gardened, enjoyed camping, played some golf, picked huckleberries, and loved to dance. Their sons, their wives and other local musicians provided much of the music for the area dances, and they especially enjoyed those. The Glenwood dances were the best! For 15 years, they traveled to Quartzsite, Ariz. for a couple of months each winter. They had fun hiking, exploring and spending many “happy hours” on the desert with friends and family.
They lived in Kamiah for a time after leaving the ranch in ‘79, and later moved to Lewiston, Idaho, where Virgil passed away in 2000. Frances became even more active in bridge and played well. She also did water aerobics several times weekly, continued to take care of her own place, and was proud of her beautiful flowers. She never lost her love for music, learned how to drum at a late age and knew the words to all the “old songs.” Until the last few days of her life, she was able to sing along to those songs as her daughter rattled out the tunes on the piano.
Frances outlived her two sisters and three brothers, her husband, and son, David. She is survived by her son, Darold and wife, Becky of Petersburg, Alaska; and daughter, Donna and husband, Bill of Coeur d’Alene.
Her family was always the joy of her life and she was adored by her grand- and great-grandkids, nieces, and nephews. How her eyes lit up when any of them entered the room! She will be missed very much.
A celebration of her life will be held on Barbecue Days weekend in Kamiah: 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2, at the home of Tony and Kathleen Messenger. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of North Idaho, 2290 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815.