Mom in Provincetown
Fran Henry
  • 76 years old
  • Date of birth: Jul 23, 1939
  • Date of passing: Jan 30, 2016
She was a tough old ranch girl!

This memorial website was created in honor of our mom, Fran Henry, 76. She was born on July 23, 1939 and passed away on January 30, 2016. We invite you to share your stories, photos and memories of her with us and with each other. We hope this site will be a celebration of her life. Thank you!

Be sure to check out other sections of this site, such as "Her Life" and "Stories."

An article on Fran's life and contributions was published in the Denver Post:

Her obituary can be read here:

Donations in Fran's memory may be made to:

Weeping Willow German Shepherd Sanctuary to help German Shepherds that are older, have suffered, or are abused:  330-898-0090

Air Shepherd Initiative to stop rhino and elephant poaching:


A memorial celebration was held on Saturday, March 12. Thank you to all of you who honored and celebrated her life with us that day.

This site is a living memorial, so please feel free to add to it at any time. We have so enjoyed reading about her impact on others' lives, and doing so sustains us in our grief.

Contact with the family can be made via  

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Patty Holloway on 30th January 2017

"MIss you, Fran. I make up dialogues inside my head for what you would say about Bannon & Breitbart. Better yet, what you might say TO them.
Peace, Dear Fran, Tracy,Kevin & Marcia."

This tribute was added by Elaine Shirley on 30th January 2017

"It's been a year since you've been gone...miss you, Fran..."

This tribute was added by Marta Hedde on 23rd July 2016

"Happy Birthday, Fran. I think of you often, especially these days. Just the other night as I sat listening to The Donald's gloom and doom acceptance speech, my mind wondered. I began to consider the levity coupled with outrage that would surely have erupted had you been present. OutrAgeous times, eh? You're sorely missed!"

This tribute was added by Lee Patton on 27th March 2016

"Just thinking about Fran again after jogging to the hilltop at Kunming Park and realizing freshly that I'll never run into her again, with Abby romping around while Fran and I would immediately launch into the eternal conversation about politicians that drove us crazy or books that we loved or students we remembered.

For Tracy and Kevin and the families, I'm so sorry for this loss."

This tribute was added by Pat Lukos on 20th March 2016

"Fran loved her German Shepherds and through that love it brought her heart to Weeping Willow German Shepherd Sanctuary and she became a very faithful supporter to the senior and physically challenged shepherds that came to us.  Many of our oldsters that have passed to the Rainbow Bridge were waiting for her and holding out their paws to shake her hand and give her a GSD kiss and welcome her Home.  Weeping Willow is proud to call her a special friend and God Speed to this wonderful lady with such a beautiful smile....We will miss you and are grateful for all you have done to help those GSDs in need....Our condolences to her family.  Weeping Willow Board of Directors, 501c3 charitable organization, Incorporated in the State of Ohio"

This tribute was added by Jim McKay on 18th March 2016

"So many nice and true things said about Fran and all so true. I was a friend and taught with Fran for many years. Many in our circle were excellent teachers but none were more professional than Fran. She loved students and teaching but she realized how important it was for teachers to have a decent salary and job security. She worked long hours to achieve these things for the profession and all teachers owe a debt of gratitude to this strong woman."

This tribute was added by Dave Stidger on 12th March 2016

"I taught fifth grade at Pine Lane Elementary School and was fortunate to have had both Tracy and Kevin in my class. I remember Fran from our conferences and her being such a positive, supportive parent. Her wonderful outlook on life was, and I'm sure still is, exhibited in her children. Tracey and Kevin were both a delight to teach. I wish you both comfort in this difficult time."

This tribute was added by Jodene Kissler on 12th March 2016

"Our sincere condolences to Tracy and Kevin.  The planet lost a beautiful advocate and wonderful friend in Fran.  We are very fortunate and blessed to have been give time with her, to have learned from her, to have loved her and to have witnessed all that she accomplished.  She will remain in our hearts and live on in the lives of her children, grandchildren, students and colleagues.  We have all been changed for the better by Fran.  Those of us who knew her certainly have a special bond of friendship and a duty to carry on her special work of truth, compassion and passion for living!"

This tribute was added by Marta Hedde on 12th March 2016

"I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Fran’s passing. Even though we shared multi-decade careers teaching English and journalism at high schools at opposite ends of the Metro Area, she was certainly my mentor, as well as my friend. I modeled my career after hers and strove for the same high quality in the student newspapers I advised. While my newspapers never won as many awards as the Courier did (few could match that record!), it was more her philosophy and outlook I strove to emulate.

Others can comment on the tough instructor or highly qualified colleague they remember, but I would list her wicked sense of humor and ready laugh as the two qualities I’ll miss the most. We got through some pretty stressful times by cackling at each other’s jokes and absurd situations we encountered.

What I’ll remember most in association with Fran, though, is the two-year adventure we launched when we set out to get Colorado’s Student Freedom of Expression law passed. That endeavor took months of some of the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, and Fran felt the same way. Hours turned into days and then months of intense discussion, planning and organization, followed by last-minute decision-making, phone calls at all hours of the day and night, and reams of letters sent. Fran was always there, critical thinking cap on and a solid background of political savvy on which to draw. Luckily, the dedication she felt for the campaign was contagious, and our team enjoyed a positive outcome. Without her effort, we would have failed, and young journalists and their teachers would not have the protections they enjoy today.

I became president of the state scholastic press association shortly after the law was adopted. I aspired to the position mostly because I had watched Fran when I joined the board during her presidency. The skill and passion with which she led the group ignited the same in me. She always said modeling was the best way to educate.

And so, good-bye to a grand lady. Rest in peace, Fran. You did a marvelous, important job while you were here. Now, when I hear the distant thunder of spring storms, I hope it’s Fran letting loose a grand guffaw at some heavenly joke."

This tribute was added by Kathy Chavez on 11th March 2016

"I am thankful that I was able to visit with Fran twice before she was too sick for visitors.  Sadly, visits prior to that were few.  We spoke by phone and exchanged emails both of which were always very meaningful for me.  

I never had the privilege of team teaching with Fran. However, she had some of my students in her class and that provided me with the opportunity to have many conferences with her and the students.  I hand picked the students that were to be in her English class because she was tough, demanding, challenging, and had high standards and expectations for her students.  Those that took her class had to work hard for their grade and when they completed the semester, they had learned a lot both academically and otherwise.  One student I remember was as “hard headed” as Fran.  It was actually fun to have a conference with the two of them.  As “hard headed” as Fran was, she had a heart of gold and after a good fight, she always went with what was best for the student.  

I had the privilege of traveling with Fran and two other teachers to Cozumel.  We had such a fun time.  Fran started having difficulty walking so we got her a wheel chair and I “pushed her around”.  No one “pushed Fran Henry around”, but I did!  We also had a good laugh when the three of us came back from breakfast and saw that Fran was on the third floor balcony.  It was very hot and humid and we wondered what she was doing there.  Apparently she had gone out on the balcony to smoke a cigarette and had shut the sliding door…it locked and she had been locked out without a cigarette for over an hour.  Fran laughed, too.  It wasn’t the heat or the humidity that had her, it was not having the cigarette!  It was a different time in our lives.  That trip to Cozumel was one that I will never forget…snorkeling, the jeep ride, the delicious dinners and best of all, the friendship.  

Fran was my daughter’s English teacher.  They had a love/not-so-much love relationship.  Fran was tough; Kim was challenging and stubborn.  Kim was tough; Fran was stubborn and challenging!  Despite all of that, they became friends with total respect for each other.  Fran attended Kim’s wedding and her baby shower.  That is something I will always remember.  She was a true friend to both of us.

Fran will be missed.  Kevin, Tracy and family, please accept my sincere condolences.  I hope that some of these stories will confirm that there were so many people that loved your mom.  She was, indeed, a very special woman."

This tribute was added by Patty Holloway on 11th March 2016

"How I will miss Fran saying, as only she could,  "outrAgeous," and "appAlling," especially as we suffer through the rest of this election year without her.  Whether in jest or with ire, Fran's vehement use of these words to describe inappropriate or unprincipled behavior always served to underscore her own incomparable honor and respectability.

No one could do drama, flare, feisty, or formidable as Fran did.  She could make even things-beige, dazzle with color. Fran was a force to be reckoned with both inside and outside the classroom. She was sometimes brash, frequently bold, always absolutely fearless. We drew strength from hers.  She was the epitome of stubborn at its best:  persistent, unflinching, committed, resolute about things which mattered.  

No other friend was as loyal--make that a capital L-- as she. Fran always had your back, and sometimes solved a problem before you even knew you had one. I loved her passion, her politics, her eloquence ( she made you yearn to learn more 4- and 5- syllable words).  This "tough old ranch girl" was classy, elegant, stylish, always put-together, impeccably coiffed.  I wanted to dress like her when I grew up.  Nobody could say "mArvelous,"  "fAbulous," or "phenOmenal" with Fran's same fervor. It's no wonder. She was all of these...and more.

I want always to remember that Sunday night at Fran's house about two weeks before she passed. I want these images never to fade:

Fran, though inching her way painstakingly on a walker from bedroom to recliner, smiling; stopping to acknowledge each next person; her face, radiant;

in her recliner, Fran telling Kevin to break out the champagne because we had things to celebrate!

Kevin popping the cork; he and Marsha serving us the bubbly in Fran's stems;

Fran joyfully taking a call from a former student in the Midwest who wanted Fran to know she was running for a state office;

Nathan, towering 6ft above everybody else, sitting, reaching over toward the recliner to hold his grandma's hand;

Tracy, moving over for a minute to cuddle in her mom's lap;

Fran holding Tracy, reassuring her, "You know, you're going to be all right.  Yes, you will be ok";

Tracy, head on Fran's heart,"...because that's the way you raised me--to be a strong, independent woman";

Fran, lifting her glass, gazing with love again at each person in the room, toasting us, "This is good.  It's so easy.  So easy... being at home, rather than in a hospital";

Janice, tearing , toasting Fran for being an incredible mentor and friend;

me, toasting Fran for her fiestiness, thanking her;

Fran, sweeping the room, taking in everybody once more-- her nephew from out-of-state, her family, her friends--nothing but light shining in her eyes;

Fran, content, peaceful, still smiling, nodding her head: "What could be better? Here, we have family, friends….";

Fran, raising her arm, as though to embrace:  "...we have teachers…"; loving eyes landing on Tracy and Marsha, "...mothers. Mothers. What could be better?""

This tribute was added by J. Christopher McMath on 10th March 2016

"Fran was my teacher and newspaper adviser at DCHS. She made a huge impact on my learning and writing that I never forgot. She was tough but really cared about her students. Thoughts and prayers to her family."

This tribute was added by Elaine Shirley on 10th March 2016

"These words are from the birthday card I gave to Fran in July...I think they are perfect for her!

"I'm proud to know you
a woman who is so true to herself
true to the things she believes
and the people she loves,
true to what she knows and how she feels,
true to the remarkable woman she is...

This tribute was added by Mark Goodman on 9th March 2016

"Just learned this week of the death of Fran Henry.  I was director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., at the time she was helping coordinate the effort to get the student free expression law passed in Colorado in 1989-90. She and I spoke on the phone and exchanged faxes many times during those months.  

Fran was a joy to work with and was tireless in her commitment to fight censorship in schools.  About thirty states have made similar attempts to enact high school student free expression laws, but only eight have been successful.  Colorado law, Colorado Revised Statutes section 22-1-120, was the fourth.

Because of the law Fran helped enact, hundreds of thousands of high school journalists and their advisers have been protected. Those numbers grow each year.  It’s impossible to count how many student voices would have been silenced if Fran Henry hadn’t been dedicated and enthusiastic, wiling to take on this fight.

As beloved as Fran was to her family and friends, she was also special to many others far from Colorado.  Fran Henry changed the world for high school journalists in Colorado and has inspired others across the nation to attempt to do the same.  It was an honor to have known her."

This tribute was added by Gretchen Nagel on 9th March 2016

"One of my strong beliefs is we only know a piece of those we know.  Here is my piece of Fran, my colleague / friend at DCHS.  No one ever sat in her class for an easy A, which many of you remember. She demanded her students stay focused and disciplined.  It's a challenge to mark an F or D for a student and Fran was a high quality teacher.  Also though, I remember a few conversations we shared about the challenges of our raising teenagers at home while teaching them at school. To read the beautifully written memory from Tracy and Kevin and their loving care for her as she passed shows Fran's success as a high quality single mother.  Never an easy role.  I love the quote about " a tough old ranch girl!" which helps me remember her in a new light."

This tribute was added by Kerry Tyler on 9th March 2016

"A special Lady.  Highly respected and a good friend"

This tribute was added by Cesilie Garles on 9th March 2016

"She was a wonderful teacher and mentor.  She will definitely be missed!"

This tribute was added by Leslie Randall on 8th March 2016

"My classroom at DCHS was right next to Fran's.  She was a mentor, a colleague and a dear friend.  I admired her "exacting standards" and her professional conduct.  I know she will be dearly missed by many."

This tribute was added by Rachel Spencer on 8th March 2016

"I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Your mother taught me years ago and told me I should become an English teacher and take myself seriously as a writer. I've told stories about her high standards to each of the classes I've taught over the past 14 years. I also think of her fondly each time I pen a freelance article. She was tough and classy. Thank you for sharing her."

This tribute was added by Amanda Cavanagh on 8th March 2016

"Oh the pressure of a solid lead to do her proud. Fran was a truly inspirational teacher and a wonderful person.  I can imagine that teaching Beowulf to a Junior honors class and keeping it lively was no easy feat. She demanded excellence and challenged your perspective.  Our trip to England, Ireland and Scotland for Honors English was a blast with her. Cheers Ms. Henry and thank you for everything."

This tribute was added by yvonne tricarico on 7th March 2016

"Fran was my life long friend and I feel fortunate to have many wonderful memories of her.  I loved sharing elections with her.  She was passionate about politics and when Bernie Sanders won the Colorado Caucus she was the first person I thought about.  I think I will always miss her during election years.  Sweet dreams, bella, you will live on in beautiful memories of people who shared your life!"

This tribute was added by Adam Dawkins on 7th March 2016

"Fran's passionate and important work for Colorado student free expression rights will never be forgotten and will always be honored. - Adam Dawkins, President, Colorado Student Media Association (formerly Colorado High School
Press Assn)."

This tribute was added by Christi Duke on 6th March 2016

"Kevin and Tracy--

  I have been remembering your mom lately and how much I learned from her that had nothing to do with school.  I know she felt that I needed a mother more after my own mother passed away.  My daughter, a senior in high school now, is battling for her English teacher who has been forced to resign over what amounts to a censorship issue.  I think about Fran Henry and how much I learned from my beloved English and Journalism teacher, and how she formed my life and outlook, and I am more than grateful for her.   I love you both and I can never express how much Fran Henry means to me.  I wish you all peace and fond memories."

This tribute was added by Shannon Moudy on 6th March 2016

"As a high school student at DCHS, I loved English classes and took as many as I could. Mrs. Henry gave me my first opportunity with the Journalism and newspaper-writing side of things. She was always one of my favorite teachers. I am sorry to hear of her passing and pray for comfort for her family."

This tribute was added by Glenda Dumler on 6th March 2016

"Fran was a special woman. She touched a lot of students life's. RIP sweet lady ."

This tribute was added by Edna Doherty on 6th March 2016

"I had the pleasure of working with Fran for many years. She was a dear friend and colleague. Always a professional, Fran contributed greatly to the students and staff of Douglas County High School. I am blessed to have known her."

This tribute was added by Kathleen Marianelli on 4th March 2016

"Tracy and Kevin,
I am so sorry about your loss.  I remember meeting your mom when Marco was playing the drums for Bob.  I could tell that she was so proud of Marco and Sofia and she obviously loved being their grandmother. I was difficult for her to walk but she was there to support Marco!!  It was beautiful!!!  I hope that as time passes, you will have wonderful memories that will help you through this difficult time."

This tribute was added by Tara Milligan on 4th March 2016

"I was an English major at the University of Memphis when I registered for a journalism class. It was called Intro to News Writing. I was a pretty confident writer at the time. I always aced my English papers, and I had even won an essay contest in high school. And then I turned in my first news story. And Fran gave me an F. That F rocked my world. As I held the paper in my hand, I knew that I was going to figure out this journalism thing or die trying. At the end of the semester, Fran called me out to the hallway and put an application in my hand for the college newspaper, The Daily Helmsman. That moment changed my life. Fran opened up a new world to me, and she set me on a career path (with some twists and turns) that has been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined when I was a scared college student who only knew that I loved writing and words.

Later, when I earned my Master's degree in journalism, I dedicated the work to Fran Henry, "who started me on this journey."

I am so grateful that I got to reconnect with Fran and that we could spend time together a few years ago at the U of M journalism alumni luncheon and at dinner later that night. I will treasure our time spent together. It was too short."

This tribute was added by Mary Kinsella-Meier on 4th March 2016

"Love seeing the beautiful photos of your mom!

Keep these memories vibrant - and I hope that you will always feel her presence, guidance and love -"

This tribute was added by Dan Lattimore on 3rd March 2016

"I first got to know Fran when I was a journalism professor at CSU and worked with the Colorado High School Press Association. She later worked with me teaching students and advisers at my Journalism Camp at CSU. After I left CSU to go to Memphis, I recruited Fran to come to Memphis and work on her masters degree while serving as the executive editor of The Helmsman, our school newspaper. I tried to hire her at the University of Memphis when she finished, but the lure of Colorado was too much in her blood. I certainly understood. She was a topnotch teacher, adviser, editor.....just an all-around great journalist who helped make Colorado scholastic journalism the best in the nation in my opinion. She was a true friend who I will always remember not only for her many contributions to journalism education, but also for her lasting friendship."

This tribute was added by Elinor Grusin on 3rd March 2016

"Although I was the professor and Fran  my student,  I learned much more from her than she from me. Ours was a friendship that began in 1988 and endured over the years and miles from Memphis to Denver. Fran was among the finest journalists, teachers and students whom I have ever known. When she saw injustice or complacency, she fought it with a passion. In her classes and as general manager of the student newspaper, she insisted on excellence and pursued it relentlessly. Her years at the University of Memphis were golden for student journalists, whose careers she launched and for whom she was both mentor and role model. Rest in peace, my friend. Your fight is over and your battle is won. We who are left to mourn will always remember your hard work, your conscience and your courage. Elinor Kelley Grusin"

This tribute was added by Phyllis Anderson on 3rd March 2016

"Dear Tracy and Kevin,
Jerry and I were so sorry to hear of your mom's death. We hope eventually the happy memories will help to replace the sorrow. We will be thinking of you on March 12th.

Phyllis and Jerry"

This tribute was added by Rita Henry on 3rd March 2016

"Tracy and Kevin, you were so fortunate to have Fran as your mother.  I know she will always be close to you in your heart."

This tribute was added by Tracy Balarezo on 2nd March 2016

"It is our hope that this site will be a living memorial to our mom, Fran Henry. We look forward to reading your comments and memories of your time with her as we grieve her loss. Thank you for any comments you may wish to share."

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