Frances Fohs Sohn, was born Frances Baldauf Fohs, in New York City, August 18, 1918, to Cora Baldauf and F. Julius Fohs. She passed away peacefully on August 8, 2014, in Redding, Connecticut, just ten days before her 96th birthday.
She spent her childhood in New York City, and summers in Chappaqua, New York, where she enjoyed time with her only sibling, her sister Ella, who was eight years older. Sadly, Ella died at age 15 of pneumonia. As a child, Frances loved to play with her wire-haired fox terrier, Phronsie. She developed interests in drawing, languages, and the arts, including drawing dogs and writing poetry. At the age of 9 she spent a year of school in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she first became fluent in French.
From 1932-1935 she attended Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame Prep), a Catholic preparatory high school, which greatly influenced her. In 1935, she converted from her family’s Jewish faith, to the Catholic faith. She entered Mills College, in Oakland California, in 1936.
Frances was home from college on vacation, visiting her parents in Houston Texas, in 1938, when she had a blind date with a recent German Jewish refugee named Fred Sohn. It was love at first sight. While courting Fred, and continuing at Mills College, she exchanged letters with him in German, every day. She graduated from Mills in the spring of 1940 with a degree in German Literature and an emphasis in French. She and Fred married on Oct. 4, 1940.
They spent the first six years of marriage in Houston where their two oldest children, Ted and Howard, were born. In 1947 they moved to Ames, Iowa, where Mark was born. In 1949 they moved to Roseburg, Oregon, and founded Sun Studs, Inc. A few years after moving to Roseburg, Rick and Jerry were born. Throughout sixty years in Roseburg, Frances and Fred Sohn together built a very full family, community, and business life. They were an inseparable couple.
Frances was a very loving and supportive wife and mother. She served as a Cub Scout Den Mother for all five sons. She taught many people the names, edibility, and how to press and preserve, leaves and the local wildflowers. Her main reference was “Wildflowers of the Pacific Coast,” by Leslie Haskin. For her family, she especially loved to cook and bake from scratch, traditional southern German cookies, apple and blackberry pies, and decorated birthday cakes. She was a strong supporter of St. Joseph School, where her children attended, and St. Joseph Catholic Church, where the family attended Mass every Sunday at 7:00 am.
She became the librarian at St. Joseph’s School, and remained in that position for a 33-year volunteer career. She read children’s books to all the grades when they visited the library. She organized the volunteer library staff, purchased the books, put book jackets on, and repaired the well-used ones, often at home.
Her desire to spread her love of reading and the arts led to a major commitment to the Douglas County Library in later years, as well as many Roseburg elementary school libraries, through the purchase of books, and financial support for school art programs. She also identified various regional artists, and brought about exhibits of their work, as well as many exhibits of student art, for the enrichment and enjoyment of students and the whole community, in the hallways of Mercy Hospital.
She also supported numerous artistic, charitable, and philanthropic endeavors in the Roseburg area, including St. Joseph’s Church and its art, Mercy Hospital, including the new Mercy Hospital Chapel, the Umpqua Valley Arts Association, Southern Oregon Public Radio, the second Roseburg Hebe statue, and many more.
She also supported many educational, artistic and philanthropic causes through the Fohs Foundation, started by her parents and later overseen by her for 50 years. The Fohs Foundation supported international causes, including sustaining the Jewish homeland and other programs in Israel, which were also important to her parents.
In 2009, Fred and Frances Sohn moved to Meadow Ridge retirement community in Redding, Connecticut. They lived happily there, together for the remainder of their 71 years of marriage until Fred Sohn’s death in 2011.
Frances had a positive spirit, an easy smile, and a genuine high level of energy and interest in just about everything. She remained an avid reader in French, German, and English, until her final couple of weeks. At Meadow Ridge, she thrived in the French and German conversation groups. She also joined a Clay Class where she made dogs which she gave away, mainly to family.
She is survived by her five sons and spouses, Ted and Pat, of Sleepy Hollow, New York; Howard and Ann, of Kentfield, California; Mark of New York City; Rick and Jacky, of Roseburg, Oregon; and Jerry and Eba, of Santa Monica, California; as well as 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. A special thanks to Victoria, Norma, Marshina, Margaret, Lynn, Laura, Crystal, and others on the nursing staff, who were so helpful to Frances Sohn, in her final years.
A private family funeral service is being held at Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings on Hudson, New York, on August 18, 2014. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent, in Frances Sohn’s memory, to the Douglas County Library Foundation, 1409 NE Diamond Lake Blvd., Roseburg, OR 97470.