Frances Otilla Stith Washington of Saint Charles, MO, passed away Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at the age of 106 surrounded by family and friends. She was the oldest African American citizen of St. Charles, MO until May 3rd. Frances was born on April 30, 1916, in Oregon, MO. She reached the age of 106 this year. She was the second oldest of four children. Baptized in the Nodoway River at the age of twelve, she became a member of the Baptist Church. Frances became a Sunday school teacher in the church at an early age. Frances attended a one room school for the first eight years of her education. Since Afro-Americans could not attend integrated high school in those days, she attended high school in Kansas. She wanted to attend Lincoln University in MO for college. Luckily, she did, for that is where she met her husband, Melvin. At this time, she joined the St. John A.M.E. Church in St. Charles, so the two of them could worship together. They had 65 wonderful years together. Frances served on various committees in the church during the last 78 years. She was a member of the former Ladies Chorus, a member of the Georgia B. Clay Missionary Society, a stewardess and was consecrated as a Deaconess of the St. John A.M.E. Church under the leadership of Rev. Wallace Foster. She lies before you as a mother of the church. She was most proud of being Mother of the Church. Frances first taught in a one room schoolhouse, later in Kinlock, MO, and finished her teaching at Benton School in St. Charles. She was a retired educator with 40 years of service, 32 of these years in St. Charles. Frances received teacher of the year while teaching Benton Elementary School. She was a life member of the Missouri State Teachers Association, a member of the American Association of University Women, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Silhouettes, Assoicate member of Frankin High School Reunion Association, served on the city board for the Beautification of St. Charles, was the voice of some of the city tour tapes, served as a volunteer on the American Red Cross Advisory Board and a Red Cross Volunteer of the St. Charles branch for more than 20 years. During that time, she served in relief efforts of six local floods. Frances was the recipient of the American Red Cross Clara Barton Award. Frances is survived by her daughter, Melva (The late Ronald) Copes; two grandsons, Ronald Copes, II, and Rodney (Florence) Copes; two great-granddaughters, Brieona Braeske and Ronnelle Copes; two great-grandson, Julian and Alex Copes; a great-great-grandchild, Aubernae Derrit; nieces, Gwendolin Hill and Delores (Joe) Rutlin; nephews, Leo Stith and Eric Stith; great nieces and nephews, cousins and other family members; a host of dear and beloved friends; a group of wonderful ladies called her caretakers that totally spoiled her with love. If you are nineteen or twenty-nine, Or fifty or seventy-two, or 106 Living your life with God in your heart Will help make your dreams come true; For it’s not the number of years you live But the thoughts that you think each day That determines the joy you have and give As you travel along life’s way... The family thanks you for the many cards, flowers, calls and well wishes during this painful time.
Memorial Donations may be made in Frances' name to St. John AME Church.
A live webcasting of the funeral service can be found here. Baue Funeral Homes is currently following CDC recommendations regarding mask and social distancing policies.