Editor’s note: To make the online memorials special, we accept articles written by someone in the branch. Include fond memories, appreciation for her activities in the branch, whether she was an art, letters or music member, and something about her creative works and achievements. Always include date and age at time of death. Please also send photos of the member and of her work, or commentary about her creativity. Submissions for the In Memoriam webpage follow the deadlines for the The Pen Woman magazine.
We honor the lives of these departed Pen Women…
Jane McDonald Johnson
July 3, 1924 — July 3, 2021
Jane McDonald Johnson, longtime letters member, died in Tigard, Oregon, on July 3, 2021 at the age of 96. She was an integral part of Portland Branch, Oregon, where served as vice president and historian.
In the 1940s, Johnson left her home in Iowa and moved with her husband to Oregon, where she graduated from Marylhurst University. She had taught school in Iowa and, after earning her degree at Marylhurst, she taught in Portland. An avid poet, Johnson wrote beautiful, expressive poems, many about the charm and peace of Oregon.
Her fellow branch members remember her many sweet and fine qualities. She was a good friend. Johnson’s humor and the lighthearted chats around her old Franklin stove years ago remain treasured memories among her friends.
Johnson was a member of the Oregon State Poetry Association (now the Oregon Poetry Association or OPA) and Mount Hood Poetry Circle for more than 20 years. She served as historian on the OPA board.
She published “Varied Verses” in 1970; “Nedonna Notebook” in 1972; and “Songs Under the Fir Trees,” a collection of her poetry spanning over 30 years, in 1993. Although she was recognized by Pen Women for her lovely poetry, Johnson had many other talents and interests, which included painting, sewing, and quilting. She is warmly remembered by everyone in the Portland Branch.
Shirley May Tabler
March 18, 1936 — Dec. 15, 2020
Tabler went to college in her late 30s and early 40s. She graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with master’s degrees in art rducation and library science, with a full career at Montgomery County Public Schools. She retired early to travel with the love of her life, Carlton, and continued her world travels well beyond his death.
A talented artist, Tabler won several awards for her art throughout the years. She was a world traveler who made friends easily. She was listed in the 1993-1994 edition of “Who’s Who of American Women.” In addition to being a longtime NLAPW member, she was active with the Miniature Painters Sculptors Gravers Society, Cider Painters, Olney Art Association, and several other art associations.
Tribute to the Late Frances Tunnell Carter, Former NLAPW National President
By Jan Martin Harris, Birmingham Branch President
Frances Tunnell was born May 21, 1922, in Springville, Missouri. She has stated that her father, David, a doctor and farmer, actually delivered her and “signed her birth certificate three different places.”
Fran was a natural teacher. She taught Sunday School from the age of 12 until she was 90. She waitressed to pay tuition at Wood College, Mississippi, where she met a young man, soon to be a paratrooper, John Carter. Fran taught elementary school on a “defense certificate,” having completed two years of junior college. But World War II was raging and she left Mississippi to move to Birmingham, Alabama, to work on B-29 airplanes at the Bechtel-McCone-Parsons Airplane Modification Plant. There, she joined the ranks of other women directly working in support of the war effort, or as they came to be known, Rosie the Riveters.
“We were working men’s jobs. That is what we did. These were jobs women had never done before. It was educational and patriotic — we were trying to win that war,” she was quoted as saying in StyleBlueprint in June 2019. “We were about to lose it. But there were two ways that I think we really impacted women. We influenced fashion — it wasn’t custom for women to wear shorts and slacks before. And the second thing, we opened the door for women to do any kind of work, even men’s work.”
Fran married John Carter in 1946; both earned master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee in 1948 and their doctorates together at the University of Illinois in 1954. The couple taught at various levels of high school and college, becoming what they were until the end of their days: the Carter Dream Team.
In 1956, they joined the faculty at Samford University in Birmingham. Their family now included a son, Wayne, and a daughter, Nell. During her tenure at Samford, Fran taught education and home economics and established the early childhood education major for Samford students.
Fran and John Carter traveled around the world twice, taught in Hong Kong, and went on medical mission trips in Honduras until their mid-80s.
Fran was a lieutenant colonel in Civil Air Patrol, a member of the Silver-Haired Legislature and Silver-Haired Congress, and national executive director of Kappa Delta Epsilon Education Fraternity. She served as president of the Birmingham Branch of NLAPW two nonconsecutive terms, 1968-1969 and 1976-1978; and as the 60th national president in 1994-1996. She was Birmingham’s Woman of the Year, and in 2016, received the Woman in American History Award from Daughters of the American Revolution. She authored numerous books and educational materials for children, as well as many articles in professional and denominational journals. Fran published a book, “Manners for Me,” in 1957; later she and daughter Nell co-wrote “R is for Rosie,” which continues to be sold at the gift shop in the National Archives.
In 1998, Fran and John Carter had been to a program honoring women who worked to support the WWII effort. On the drive home, she came up with the idea of a national organization: Rosie The Riveter. The organization that started small eventually reached over 6,000 members in all 50 states. The Carters began to give programs titled “Rosie and her Paratrooper,” both dressed for the part. After her husband’s death in 2014, she continued to share the legacy of Rosie the Riveter with the help of her daughter, Nell Branum. The two did about 120 presentations until 2019.
Like the patriot she was, Fran Carter died on Memorial Day 2021, at the age of 99. As the giver she was, she donated her body to the University of Alabama Birmingham Medical School. She left behind a video for public view, “Women of Steel, We Can Still Do It!” (find it on Facebook, under People of Alabama, in videos). In this video, she left some lasting words of wisdom: “Things that make a life well-lived: one, acceptance; two, nonjealousy; three, loveliness; four, compassion.”
We were so blessed to have known Fran Carter and will remember her with fondness and admiration.
Archives (by NLAPW date published):
- Jacqueline Campbell
- Pauline Dages
- Mary Elizabeth McKenna
- Rosemary Potter
- Dr. Myra F. Levick
- Ann Terry Davis
- Thelma H. Urich
- Genevieve “Jenny” Gumptertz
- Bette Veronica Miller
- Judy Bingman
- Nancy Bloomer Deussen
- Marcia Chellis Kay
- Catherine Wilding Atkinson
- Colleen Stanley Bare
- Cokie Roberts
- Carolyn Alexander Fleming, Pensacola Branch
- Kathleen Langan, Greenwich Connecticut Branch
- Pearl Newton Rook, Central New York Branch
- Diana Carol (Howe) Etheridge, Satellite Beach Florida Branch
- Yvonne Kirkpatrick Willie, Birmingham Branch (Alabama)
- Dorothy Timmons, 101, Art Member, Des Moines Branch
- Barbara Pierce Bush, Honorary Member
- Grace Lieberman, Modesto Branch
- Mary Elizabeth Perry Hildebrand, member-at-large
- Muriel C. Freeman, former national president, Alexandria Branch
- Janet Schulz, Stockton-Lodi Branch
- Diane Louise Wold, Modesto Branch
- Virginia Dall, Modesto Branch
- Cheri M. Bentley-Beckman, Palm Springs Branch
- Idell Weiss, art member, Golden Gate Marin Branch
- Kay O. Cornelius, Huntsville Branch
- Stella “Maurine” Vance Geldmacher, Southeast Louisiana Branch
- Arlene Montgomery Spencer, Indianapolis Branch
- Gloria Huttner Ross, Southeast Louisiana Branch
- Katie Wainwright, Southeast Louisiana Branch
- Liana M. Moonie, Greenwich, CT Branch
- Lois A. Charles, Diamond State, DE Branch
- Carolyn Burton Landers, Atlanta Branch
- Anne Lorraine Macdonald, Greenwich, CT Branch
- Pam Babcock, La Jolla, CA Branch
- Lois Duncan, Sarasota, FL Branch
- Harriet Foster-Parrish, Nashville Branch
- Donna Freckmann, Pensacola FL Branch
- Gayle Norton Hornsby, Nashville Branch
- Dorothy Kishibay, Connecticut Pen Women
- G. Arlene Silva Mattos, Modesto, CA Branch
- Kathleen Alice Neal, Atlanta Branch
- Margaret Lynch Siskow, Iowa City, IA Branch
- Emily Virginia Blake Vail, Atlanta Branch