Mary Frances “Fran” Giles ~ Carbondale October 16, 2020

Mary Frances “Fran” Giles, 96, died peacefully in her sleep at her Carbondale home on October 16, 2020. Born in Alabama, Fran received her BA from Berea College in 1945. She met her first husband, Sherwin “Sherry” F. Abrams, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They married in 1950 and remained in Madison while he finished his doctorate and she ran the Theater Box Office. In 1955, they came to Carbondale Illinois where Sherry joined “Mac” Mcleod to form the nascent Theater Department at SIU. In 1964, Fran and Sherry adopted her brother’s three children, Joseph, Michael, and Patricia Nunley, after their parents’ deaths. From 1955, Fran was secretary to the Deans in the College of Education (COE) until she was encouraged by Dean E. J. Clark and Sherry to quit and pursue her master’s degree. Fran received her MA in English from SIU in 1969. She taught in the English Department then became an academic advisor in the COE and, from 1975, served as its Coordinator for Teacher Education Services and Chief Academic Advisor until her retirement in 1987. Sadly, Sherry died in 1970, but, a few years later, Fran met John “Jack” E. Giles who was a Vice President at Giles Armature and Electric in Marion. They were married from 1978 until Jack’s death in 2007. Fran joined the First Presbyterian Church of Marion, was a member of the professional organization Phi Delta Kappa, walked with the Strutters’ Club and, along with Jack, became Life Master at Duplicate Bridge. Although Jack was a staunch Republican and Cubs fan and Fran was a devout Democrat and Cardinals fan, these things didn’t matter to them. They went to the voting booths and Bush Stadium together, and rooted for their respective teams. All that other people noticed about them was their joyful pursuit of their common interests, especially bridge, theater, cats, books, and travel. An extremely friendly, people-oriented individual, Fran rarely traveled anywhere without encountering an old friend or making a new one. Fran was an avid reader of mysteries and biographies and, as long as she was physically able, she attended all of the plays at SIU’s McLeod Theater and the Jackson County Stage Company. Although her body weakened, during her last few years she was able to live comfortably at home with the help of her home care-workers, in particular, Francis Gonzalez, Melissa Gunn, Becky Loving, Janette McDaniel, and Diane Tatum. Fran is survived by her three children, two grandchildren, and several cousins. A memorial service will be held for her sometime next year. If you wish to make a donation in her honor, please consider giving to Hospice or to your local library, public broadcast station, animal shelter, or live theater, or, if you prefer, to a charity of your choice.


  1. Dan and Susie Selock says

    To Fran’s family
    Fran was such an important part of our church family at Marion 1st Presbyterian church. Dan and I offer our sympathies to Pat and the rest of her family.

  2. Laura Pind says

    Fran was a wonderful woman. She was my supervisor at the College of Education and a caring friend for many years as we continued to get together for birthday lunches. My sympathies go out to Pat, Joe and Michael and their families.

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