Frances Hammond Chason Obituary
“To be absent from the body is to present with the Lord.” Frances Catherine Hammond Chason, 91, was born on November 05, 1925, in Louisville, Mississippi to Frank LeRoy and Ada Corine (Ballard) Hammond. She was a lifelong resident of Port St. Joe, FL, who moved to Panama City in 1997, then finally settled in Atlanta, GA in 2003. On September 03, 2017, Frances (“Fannie”, “Mother”, “Me Me”) was gently called to heaven, surrounded by her loving family, to meet her Lord and Savior, joining her husband of 66 years (and love of her life for 71 years), Williston (“Willie”) LaNell Chason, and other Heavenly family and friends in a place of peace, joy, and beauty.
Coming from a family of musicians, Frances met Willie through her love of dance, music, and adventure, falling in love with him at East Central Junior College in Decatur, Mississippi. Upon graduation, Frances moved to Jackson, Mississippi, to work with United Gas, while Willie returned to St. Joe. Their courtship continued, across the miles for 5 years, until their marriage in Louisville, Mississippi on October 01, 1950 and her move to Port St. Joe.
Having been raised on a working farm, when settling into her new home with Willie, Frances decided to continue working, using not only her amazing “social” and “people” skills; but also, her lightning fast “short-hand” skills, a skill she maintained throughout her life. Her first job was working with the President of the Apalachicola Railroad. From there, she worked with the City Manager of City Hall; and later, part-time with local attorney. Once Frances and Willie started their family, family came first. She would not return to work again until 1969, where she taught, off and on, at St. Joe High School as a substitute teacher. Then, after all of the Chason children were grown, she obtained her real estate license, working with Frank Hannon. The last job she held, before deciding to end her formal working career, was with one of her many friends, Roy Smith.
God, family, and friends were foremost in Frances’s life. Her faith and love of God joined Willie’s as they married, began a life together, had children, raised a family, made lifelong friends, and became a part of the St. Joe community. Frances joined Willie as a faithful member of the First United Methodist Church, seeing all four children were taught the importance of family, friends, and loving God. Her faith sustained her as not only a mother and grandmother; but, as a care giver for both of her parents, Willie’s parents, and Willie. Because of her faith, family, friends, and love of God, any difficulty she was ever faced with, she faced with a smile, hope, optimism, love, laughter, gaining experience to use as advice to tuck away and pass on to others, when needed. She never quit working on her love of God, family, and friendships.
Pinching pennies to build a home and raise four children, Frances learned many life skills, some taught by Willie. Having never had to cook prior to marriage, this was a skill she learned from Willie; and, developed to such an art, neighborhood children were as much a staple around the Chason dining table as were requests for recipes from friends, family, church and supper club members. Among other skills she honed were, how to sew like a professional, can food, cut the hair of the men in the family, stain wood floors and moldings while helping build our home from the ground up, delivering puppies and raising multiple and varied pets. She was an avid Bridge and Cribbage player, mastering Bunko later in life, to the point of being crowned the “Bunko Queen” by friends and competitors. She was an adventurer with a love for travel which carried her from para-sailing off of Mexico Beach on her 50th birthday to destinations including Hong Kong, Hawaii and many cities in between.
Frances’ love of her family, kept her active and involved. She never missed the opportunity to support her children at little league games, work the concession stand, chaperone band trips, or dances. She could be found court side at volleyball games, in the stands at football / soccer games, riding competitions, gymnastics, dance recitals and birthday parties in support of her grandchildren (often, her children and their spouses were the ones who took care of her and made those moments possible). In her later years, watching the Braves on TV became a favorite past time. When everyone (except Michael) thought her “get up and go had gotten up and gone”, at 91, she surprised us all by happily accepting a date to accompany her grandson, Michael, to the first BRAVES game in their new stadium Mother’s Day weekend.
In addition to being a match-maker (being responsible for more than one St. Joe marriage), she had an ever listening ear (with words of guidance) always available for those who came to her. Outspoken when needed, she silently worked wonders and provided for others, always without the need for recognition. It was impossible to be sad around Frances. Although she did not always lead an easy life, she was not afraid of change or to take chances. Frances was a courageous survivor who persevered, pushing back the dark with her light, never looking back. She had a revival in her overflowing heart and a choir in her soul. Frances led a love-filled, selfless, generous, humorous, well-lived life. Her memory will forever live on in the lives of her family, friends, and everyone whose life she touched.
Frances was preceded in death by husband, both of her parents, her brother (Harold Glenn Hammond), and her grandson (Daniel Chason).
She is survived by her children Kathryn LaNell Mays (Mitchel) of Panama City, FL; their children (grandchildren) Michael Meshane Mays, Lauren Mays Jackson (Bailey) and their son (great-grandson) Henry Ray Jackson; Terry Duke (Tom) of Panama City; Russell Hammond Chason (Chyrisse) of Roswell, GA; their children (grandchildren) Dana Chyrisse Chason, Cole Samuel Chason (Laurel) and their daughters (great-granddaughters) Molly and Livie Chason; Gregg Meshane Chason (Deborah) of San Antonio, TX; children (grandchildren) Carly Brooks Chason and Catherine Chason Ford (Jonathan) with Janie Dewind; her sister, Flora Love Melton of Panama City, FL.
Family, friends and others whose lives Frances touched are invited to Kent Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 2403 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, FL., on Friday, October 13th between 6-8pm (Central Standard Time) to reminisce, grieve, support each other, and of course just chat.
All are welcome to join us for her graveside funeral service at Holly Hill Cemetery in Port St. Joe, FL on Saturday, October 14th, 1:00pm (Central Standard Time) - 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.
In lieu of flowers, should friends desire, memorial contributions may be sent to the First United Methodist Church of Panama City, FL, or the First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe, FL.