Frances Markham

Frances Poole Markham

Friday, February 8th, 1924 - Sunday, March 1st, 2020
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Our beloved Fran Markham passed away on Sunday night, March 1 of complications from the flu. Her kind heart and infectious smile will be missed so much by her family and her community of Pleasant Hill Uplands Retirement. Her community spans the world as she has lived and been loved in so many places - Illinois, California, Portugal, Angola Africa, Zimbabwe Africa, Zambia Africa, and India. She was born in a small rural town, Sandwich, Ill. Feb 8 1924 to Mattie and Delbert Poole. They thought they couldn’t have children, but Fran surprised them! She was an only child. Delbert worked for the railroad and Mattie took in foster babies. Fran was the first one in her family to go to college. She had 2 bachelor degrees, one for teaching high school, and one as an RN nurse.

She was teaching high school in Ill. when she met her husband, Robin Markham. He was on his way to take an exam in Chicago and stopped to see his aunt. He was driving a motorcycle across country from California.

They both felt strongly that they wanted to be of service in the world, so they made the decision to become missionaries for the United church of Christ. They were married in 1950 in Sandwich. Their first daughter, Vicky was born in 1952 as Robin graduated college. Their second daughter, Rio was born in 1953 just before they left as missionaries to Angola, Africa. They went by way of Portugal where they learned Portuguese to be able to teach in Angola.

They both taught in the African high school there. Their third child turned out to be twin daughters, Jamba and Chela in 1957. Unfortunately, the war for independence from the colonialists soon began, so in 1960 Fran took the 4 girls and left Angola. Robin stayed behind to help. They were separated for 1 1/2 years while Fran stayed with their parents, first in California and then in Illinois.

Robin returned and they went to teach in Zimbabwe in 1964 as the war continued in Angola. The next war began in Zimbabwe for independence from the apartheid government there, and they had to leave in 1969. They returned to the US where they put down roots for awhile in Los Angeles CA so that their daughters could become launched into the world. They left again for the mission field in 1978, just the two of them, to Zambia, Africa. They retired in 1987 to Seattle WA, where they could be near their grandchildren. They did 2 more mission teaching jobs in India for 6 months each at the American college in Madurai. In 1997 they decided to move to the Uplands retirement community in Pleasant Hill TN, where they have lived ever since. She was an avid reader, and loved to write, and to sing. She joined the writers group and the church choir. She was known for cooking wonderful meals from the places she lived.

Fran is survived by her husband Robin, and her 4 daughters, Vicky, Rio, Jamba and Chela. She has 3 grandchildren, Ian, Dakarai, and Tandiwhe. She is remembered for her gentle, loving nature, and her love of connection with other people, all over the world. We will miss her gentle soul.

In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation in her name to either the Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Eleanor Ellins, 2016-1333 Bloor St., Mississauga ON L4Y 3T6; or Running Strong For American Indian Youth, 8301 Richmond Highway, Ste. 200, Alexandria, VA 22309

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