Frances Marie Conrad was a caring wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and loving friend. She joined our Heavenly Father on Saturday, April 17, after a sixteen-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 5-7 p.m. at Vandemore Funeral Home and Crematory – Geneseo, IL. A private funeral service will be held at First Lutheran Church with Reverend Matt Kamprath officiating. She will be laid to rest at Grace Episcopal Cemetery, Osco Township, Illinois. Memorials may be made in her name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Freedom House, or First Lutheran Church – Geneseo.
Fran was born to Suzanne Cerra on September 9, 1938 in Bruce, Wisconsin. While attending Geneseo High School, she worked at the Quality Dairy. After graduation she worked at the Rock Island Arsenal. It was at the dairy where she met the love of her life, Wayne Conrad, of Osco Township. After five years of courtship, they wed on May 21, 1961. Fran became a vital partner in their business of farming. Petite Fran could be found in the barnyard using her voice and presence to persuade livestock to move. When needed, she tried her hand at operating farm implements and even reluctantly drove the tractor with the baler on hilly fields, but she felt more comfortable spending hours on the Simplicity mower. Perhaps her best-known contribution was her feeding of the manpower.
Fran took on every possible culinary task known on the farm… pickling, cheese-making, butter-churning, and canning! She is known for her noon meals and delectable desserts! Her fresh warm bread and strawberry jam is rumored to be the reason many hired hands came to work each day.
As a loving mother, Fran is most cherished for her willingness to move outside her comfort zone to support her children in their activities, such as becoming a den mother for Cub Scouts. She taught her children by example to never shy away from a new experience and to never be discouraged when chasing your dreams.
Fran loved spending time in the yard, tending to flowers, gardening, and creating a backyard filled with the sounds of birds. Cardinals continue to entertain the family at the kitchen window daily.
Fran found a family in the members of First Lutheran Church. She was always ready to help, so she served many roles. She mostly liked the sharing of joys and sorrows, worries and thankfulness that abounds in the groups at First Lutheran. She also loved the music, and she loved to sing the hymns.
Fran thrived on the friendship and activities of her many community and social groups throughout the years. She served in various offices and often employed her wonderful secretarial skills and shorthand to the benefit of her organizations. Some of her groups over the years include Sundowners Club, Munson Center Club, Chart Club and Home Extension. She also enjoyed monthly get-togethers with her high school classmates, her regular visits to Curves and the Geneseo Community Center. She kept in touch with friends and family through letters, emails, and phone calls regularly throughout the years.
Fran was the photographic historian for her loved ones, taking, labeling, and organizing thousands of pictures of friends, family, and events into a collection of albums spanning eight decades. Her basket with her camera was with her nearly everywhere she went. She clipped newspaper articles to scrapbook and to share helpful information with those she cared for. A newspaper clipping, along with a short-handwritten note decorated with fun sticker, was just another way Fran showed her love for others.
As the family grew, Fran cherished her new role as “Gramma.” Nothing brought her more joy than an evening of roller skating at the Community Center or an afternoon of dress-up, baking, or playing on the farm with her granddaughters, Katie and Courtney. Whether it was church, 4-H, school, music lessons or sports activities, Gramma Fran was there to support her girls.
She extended this grandmotherly role to Dylan and Alyssa, too. She was always there to extend a kind word of support, a fun day on the farm, or a ride to a church activity for these special children in her life.
When her role of Gramma turned to Great-Gramma, Fran was just as enthusiastic about her great-grandbabies. She continued to be a turret of love, wisdom, and faith for her family. When she was physically able, she volunteered in her great-grandsons' classrooms. She loved listening to the children read. She continued to find immeasurable joy in the visits from Jameson, Elijah, Paisley, and Liliana, and Fran spent her time on the floor playing with puzzles, tractors, baby dolls and dress-up until her final days.
Those left to cherish her memory include her husband of 60 years, Wayne Conrad; son, Gary Conrad of rural Osco; daughter, Kathy (Dan) Scheibenreif of Ottawa; granddaughters, Katie (Patrick) Coppejans of Geneseo and Courtney (Stephen) Ericson of Cambridge; great-grandchildren, Jameson and Elijah Coppejans and Paisley and Liliana Ericson; siblings, Laura Keser of Mesa, AZ, Rita Harry of Yorkville, IL, Michael Cerra (Denise) of Bruce, WI, and Rose Bedford of Noblesville, IN; two children who held a special place in her heart, Dylan and Alyssa Bailey; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends whom she adored.
She is preceded in death by her mother; her step-father, Richard Cerra; her brother, Richard (Butch) Cerra, Jr; and her beloved grandparents, Peter and Ursula Witkiewicz.
To send flowers to Frances' family, please visit our floral store.
First Lutheran Church
114 E. Main Street, Geneseo IL 61254
Michael J. Fox Foundation
P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown MD 21741-5014
544 Tenney St., Suite 1, Kewanee IL 61443