Cover photo for Frances E. Princehouse's Obituary
Frances E. Princehouse Profile Photo
1938 Frances 2023

Frances E. Princehouse

April 21, 1938 — December 25, 2023

Chardon

FRANCES E. PRINCEHOUSE (nee Paul) age 85, beloved wife for 60 years of Joseph Breslin Princehouse; loving mother of Steven Robert Princehouse (Megen Pepmeyer) and Patricia Maria Princehouse (Colin Slator McLarty Jr.); devoted grandmother of Elise and Aiden; cherished daughter of the late Vincent and Genevieve (nee Ertle) Paul; dearest sister of Mary Lou Squance (husband William, deceased), Joseph Paul, and the late Vincent Paul, Jr, Margaret “Peggy” Paul, David Paul and Albert Paul; dear aunt and great-aunt of many.

If you saw another new star in the sky Christmas night, it was Fran. She loved Christmas and, defying medical expectations, lived to see it one more time. She passed peacefully in her sleep. With true grace she managed to leave us on December 25th - Christmas. She was beloved by so many people in so many walks of life. She was famous especially for her outgoing personality, energy and humor. She loved people. Many folks can throw a good party; Fran was the life of the party -every party she attended. She loved music and was constantly singing as she went about her day.

She shone -from her childhood in Massillon as the second-youngest of seven, to her years at the University of Dayton as scholar, cheerleader, and secretary of the student council, as well as UD homecoming queen 1959, to her involvement with the church, the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Dayton Engineers’ club, her years of volunteer work for so many worthy causes, including the Metzenbaum Center in Geauga Country, her involvement with the Great Pyrenees and Pyrenean Shepherd clubs, Dayton, Warren County, and Sugarbush Kennel Clubs, the Volvo Tennis League, Toastmasters, and so many more activities.

Despite some memory issues, she cherished recollections of her childhood in Massillon until the very end, and frequently spoke of her siblings and parents. In the last weeks of her life, she enjoyed zoom sessions with her brother Joe and sister Mary Lou, and these buoyed her tremendously.

Her parents, Vince and Genevieve, were blessed with seven children and she was the second-youngest. She was fond of saying they could have fielded a baseball team. She idolized her big brothers and sisters, and never tired of telling stories about her childhood, especially the many hijinks of Dave and Joe, such as the day they were building a treehouse and dropped a hammer on her head (amazingly, there was no serious injury!). Those boys came by it honestly as stories still circulate about their dad, born in 1893, who as a boy had many adventures with his horse named Ted, and his band of friends, including a favorite stunt of putting rocks on the train tracks to trip the train’s emergency brakes, which would release a whoosh of air and cause the train to stop. Vince had a particular knack for this and it earned him the lifelong nickname of Rox. Fran’s mother, Genevieve, was taken from us too young, but Fran adored her and frequently spoke of her wisdom.

Fran loved sports and was a cheerleader -first at Central Catholic, and then at the University of Dayton. She did well in her studies at UD, majoring in English and biology education, and rose to become secretary of the student council, as well as homecoming queen.

Upon graduation, she married the love of her life, fellow UD alum, Joe Princehouse, an engineer, and they spent the next 60 years together. Two children, Steven Robert and Patricia Maria, followed. She had hoped for a big family, but was quite content with the two. Once they were both in school, she returned to UD for graduate courses in theology. The university community remained a source of comfort and fellowship, and she and Joe kept in contact with classmates for decades. Moving North to Vandalia, then South to Centerville, it was nevertheless not unusual for them to attend Saturday evening mass at Holy Angels on the UD campus.

Fran was a force in the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Dayton Engineers’ Club for over 2 decades, and helped found the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame. And she had similar years of volunteer work for so many worthy causes. After the death of Joe’s mother, his brother Jimmy, who had Down Syndrome and autism, came to live with the family. Fran welcomed him, and later threw herself into raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Metzenbaum Center sheltered workshop in Geauga County, organizing the annual auction of magnificent quilts donated by Amish artisans. Other family members joined the household for various lengths of time, including her father in his final years, and her younger brother, Al, when he was sidelined with muscular dystrophy.

Fran was a lifelong animal lover, and had many stories about her childhood dogs, especially “Boy” the Cocker Spaniel, and “Lance” the Boxer. Lance was a champion show dog owned by some folks in town, but every chance he could, he would run off to the Paul residence to play with the kids. It got to be a daily occurrence, so finally the dog was given to the Paul children, and many happy years followed for all. This presaged her later involvement with the Great Pyrenees and Pyrenean Shepherd clubs, and the Dayton Kennel Club. She helped found the Warren County Kennel Club, and in Chardon she was a loyal member of the Sugarbush Kennel Club. She was well-known especially for her encouragement of people new to the sport.

In the 1980s, she and Joe left Dayton for a series of residences, including Grosse Pointe, MI, Chardon, OH, and the hills of Frederick County, MD, a few miles from Camp David. Over the years, she had the opportunity to travel widely all over the US, as well as Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. She relished exploring new places. She also loved learning about history, and was fortunate to live in several historic houses over the years -beginning with the childhood home in Massillon, which had been part of the Underground Railroad. The basement had secret compartments and an escape passageway and strange symbols on the wall bristling with hope and fear -left by people who had journeyed so far under such hardship and could taste freedom so tantalizingly close just over the Canadian border. The lovely Century Lane Farm south of Centerville had been built by the community’s blacksmith in 1832, with a beautiful barn added in the 1890s. In 1989 she fell in love with a 1920s country estate called Wanderwood to honor its old growth forest, and lived in its storybook English cottage-style house for many happy years in Chardon Township.

She was proud to bear the title of homemaker. Throughout her life, a strong sense of family was a driving force. And it turns out this was not only a feature of her generation. Both the Paul and Ertle sides of her family came from areas up and down the Rhine River, but especially from the northern part of Alsace. Most people know that Alsace was fought over during the World Wars, but in fact, Alsace has been fought over since the days of the Romans. It was in many ways the crossroads of Europe for much of history. It has its own culture, history and a language still spoken by a million people today. The verdant uplands and fertile plains were perfect for farming of all kinds, including winegrowing, and supported a solid economic market for some 2000 years. Despite the feuding of royal families and other entities, the heartland families of Alsace were the backbone of the region. Because of the strong, steady role of the Catholic church, Fran’s family is able to trace their pedigree back to the 14th century. Generation after generation, for 400 years, their births and deaths were recorded in the local churches of places like Lampertheim north of Strasbourg, and Uhlwiller, near a major long term market on the Moder river. Though the names of their remote ancient ancestors are lost in the mists of time, we do know that the earliest-documented generations were shepherds and herders of all kinds of livestock. As society evolved in medieval times, they learned useful skills, becoming adept bakers and shoemakers, and constructing barrels for the burgeoning wine trade. Through it all, family was the glue that kept people together. When they began coming to America around the time of the Revolutionary War, they brought this strong sense of family with them. Friends and family migrated to Ohio together, maintaining their tightknit community even while traversing vast distances. Fran was born a 6th-generation native of Massillon, Ohio. Though the vocations may have changed, the importance of family persists to this day.

This was the sense of history that Fran felt, and it shaped her life in myriad ways, from the recipe brought from the old country for lebkuchen Christmas cookies, to her penchant to take in families going through tough times and include them in everyday life until they got back on their feet. An enlarged, generous sense of family was paramount. It was her essence.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a tax deductible donation in her memory to the Topernawi Turkana Project at the State University of New York, Oswego, Attn: Anthropology Dept., 7060 State Route 104, Oswego, NY 13126-35500 or online at https://ww1.oswego.edu/ (Specify Anthropology and put Fran’s name in the memorial section). For more details, please contact Patricia at Patricia.Princehouse@Oswego.edu or 440-478-5292.

With her training in education, Fran wholeheartedly supported this wonderful project to send these bright African nomad children to school, and support their community (including their hardworking dogs).

Mass of Christian Burial Thursday, January 4, 2024, at University of Dayton campus, Holy Angels Church, 1322 Brown St., Dayton, Ohio, at 11 AM. Private Burial at a later date. Arrangements and cremation entrusted to THE DeJOHN-FLYNN-MYLOTT FUNERAL HOME OF WILLOUGHBY HILLS, 28890 CHARDON ROAD.
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