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Frances Key Lentz of Carbondale

updated: 1/12/2018 8:48 AM

Frances Key Lentz, 98, of Carbondale passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning of Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, at home.

Frances was born April 28, 1919, in rural Ramer, Tenn., to Marcus C. and Flora L. (Hamm) Key. Her father was a doctor and delivered her at home. She married John Ryder Lentz Nov. 3, 1945, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rock Creek Parish, Washington, D.C. They were constant companions until he preceded her in death Oct. 29, 1988.

Fran graduated from Ramer High School in 1937, after which she attended a business school in Memphis, Tenn., and completed a business and accounting program. Soon afterward she moved to Astoria, Ore., to live with her sister, Merle, and brother-in-law, Lee, for a year while she worked as a bookkeeper and dispatcher in the office of a trucking company. She was selected to work for the U.S. Civil Service Commission in Washington, D.C., and in 1940 became one of the thousands of "government girls" hired prior to the U.S. entering World War II. She and John became engaged shortly after he attended Army Officers Training school. They wrote to each other voraciously for five years while John was overseas until he returned to D.C. at the end of the war.

Fran became a homemaker in 1948. She and John raised their three children in Falls Church, Va. They were members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Bailey's Cross Roads, Va., where Fran was a member of the St. Frances Guild and Church Women United. She had a ready smile and was always willing to help family or friends.

Fran moved to Carbondale in August 2003, where she lived at Liberty Village Estates until she moved into her daughter and son-in-law's home in September 2013.

Fran is survived by her two daughters, Elizabeth S. Lentz-Hees and husband Frederick S. of Carbondale and Barbara L. Hilton and husband John P. of South Wales, N.Y.; son John R. Lentz Jr. and wife Jacquelyn Lucchesi, of Turners Falls, Mass.; former daughter-in-law Diane L. Norman of Hadley, Mass.; two granddaughters, Kristin E. Hilton of Buffalo, N.Y., and Morgan R. Lentz of Sunderland, Mass.; three nieces, Sharen E.-L. S. Wixom, Janet B. Sudholt,and Katherine L. McCray; five nephews, Gordon K. Belcher, Harry Lentz, Robert Lentz, Charles Lentz and Thomas Lentz; and many great- and great-great-nieces and -nephews.

Fran was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; three sisters, Clarice (infant), Allene K. Johnsey and Merle E. Belcher; and niece Mary E. Johnsey.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 at Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale. Visitation will be at the same funeral home from 10 to 11 a.m. prior to the memorial service. Interment will follow at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, where she will be interred with her husband, John.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA Midwest Chapter), Hospice of Southern Illinois, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association or any other desired charity in Fran's name. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home. For more information or to sign the memorial guest register, visit