Frances Christine (Baldwin) Conn, 91, beloved and cherished wife, mother, step-mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend, passed away on Friday, January 27, 2023, at Bickford of Gurnee, in Gurnee, IL where she has enjoyed living for the last year and a half. Frances was born in Watersmeet, Michigan on April 11, 1931, to Henry and Blanche Baldwin, as their sixth and final child.
Only her great love for God exceeded her love for her husband Harry Conn, who preceded her in death in 2001 after 48 years of marriage, plus the five years she patiently waited to tie the knot. She was 17 and visiting her oldest sister's family in Delphi, Indiana when she met Harry who was 34 and home for the weekend from his job in Chicago. They met at the Baptist church where Frances was teaching at Sunday's College and Career Sunday School Class. Harry "heard" that Frances was Marian Smith's younger sister, a senior going to Taylor University, when in fact she was a senior in high school planning on going to Taylor University. He asked her out immediately and told her he wanted to marry her before finding out she was only 17. Instead of attending Taylor, Frances applied to Moody Bible Institute where she studied for a year. Then she got a full-time job working as a secretary in Delphi, living in a boarding house right across the street from Harry's mother who continually encouraged Harry to marry Frances.
On March 22, 1953, Harry and Frances finally got married in a little 2-room apartment Harry had rented. A pastor was there to officiate and two of Harry's buddies were there as witnesses. When the pastor asked Harry which ceremony to perform, Harry replied, "The shortest one in the book!" To which Frances added, "Yes, quick, before he changes his mind!" They lived in that tiny apartment happily for a few years, until their first child, Faith, was born. A month later, Harry bought a brand new house in a suburb of Chicago for his family. Four years later, their daughter Nancy was born.
In 1961, the family moved to Rockford, IL where Harry took a job at W.A. Whitney Corporation and they quickly became life-long members of First Evangelical Covenant Church where they were very active. Frances was the perfect wife of an executive, helping and supporting him in every way. His success was her success, and she loved entertaining the various executives and business associates that would come to town. Additionally, Harry did a lot of teaching and preaching in Missionary training schools throughout the world, and would always tell the young students, "come and visit us in Rockford when you get the chance!" And they sure did! Without warning, van loads of kids would show up at the door with little more than their sleeping bags and guitars, and Fran would welcome them all with smiles and open arms, feeding them endless buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, ice cream and iced tea. She was happy to host anyone who needed a meal or a place to rest, for as long as they needed it. Some of the guests stayed for days, some for weeks, and a few for some months. She had a real gift for hospitality and drawing people out in conversation, and could make anyone feel comfortable, accepted, and loved. She saw this as her true service to the Lord, and she performed it faithfully and well. She was also very involved in Christian Women's Club, Gideon's, and various other volunteer positions in the church and community.
Frances is survived by her devoted daughters, Faith (David) Kemper of Rockford, IL, and Nancy (Daniel) Anderson of Gurnee, IL; dear step-son, Robert (Bonnie)Scott of Washington, IL; 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, dozens of adoring nieces and nephews, and dear friends Ted and Murlaine Brolund, JoAn and Hap Kranish, John and Kathy Ortberg, and so many others.
Memorial service will be at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, February 7th, in First Evangelical Covenant Church, 316 Wood Rd., Rockford, IL. Memorial visitation will be from 10:00 AM until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Rockford Rescue Mission or The Gideons.
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