Frances Nohren
Frances Nohren
Frances Nohren
Frances Nohren

Obituary of Frances W Nohren

Frances Ann Weaver Nohren died peacefully April 1, 2023. She was a spirited, and adventurous woman who eschewed conformism and often held non-traditional opinions. She was born in Tampa on October 15, 1934, to Frances Peak and Otto Weaver soon after they had arrived in St. Petersburg to help in the family lumber and greyhound racing business. Frances Ann grew up with many opportunities and especially enjoyed spending time with her horses and pet dogs.

She rode western and English saddle on her palomino, Shine, at her parents’ ranch on Cross Bayou in high school. She won rowdy barrel races as well as refined dressage events. One summer Otto and Frances drove Fran and her brother, Paul, and their pet dog, Easter, west soon after World War II ended. In her diary, she recorded the beautiful horses she saw along the three-month summer journey.

She was also a competitive water skier. When she was asked to join an event to ski from Florida to New York, her mother disallowed her participation in the risky adventure. No doubt, Frances Ann was rankled.

She graduated from St. Paul’s Catholic School in St. Petersburg, enrolled at Sophia Newcomb at Tulane University, and joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Marriage to Donald Beazley ended her college education and she and Don moved to University of Florida's Flavet married student housing. There they had Louise and Peggy. Four years later Don died in an automobile accident.

Frances Ann’s father enlarged an equestrian tack room on his acres of pasture for a house in 1957 for her in what became Harshaw Lake Subdivision. There she rode and taught her daughters to ride their family horses, Shine and Ammo, a thoroughbred dun. Their colts Smokey, a nod to his buckskin and Danny, a majestic roan, were born there. She gave her daughters an irascible Shetland pony, ironically named Sugar, and a lovable mule, Rufus, kept guard.

Frances Ann was healthy despite her unhealthy food choices like cream cheese and olive sandwiches on white bread or bacon fat fried chicken. Healthy food definitions change and so too did Fran’s. Her cooking endeavors waxed to gourmet cooking and she bought a set of Vincent Price gourmet cooking books, but she soon tired of the indoor activity, although her cooked fresh caught bay scallops, and stone crab claws were signature. She attempted domesticity with tasks such as sewing, knitting, crocheting and needle pointing for several years, whichever craft was currently popular. She was an avid reader of classic novels and contemporary titles. In accord with the times in the fifties and sixties, she dressed fashionably to attend social engagements. In 1959, she married Douglas Buchan. Their son Paul was named for her brother who died three years earlier after conducting covert activities in Libya for the US Air Force. Their marriage ended nine years later.

Fran was a Director of the St Petersburg Kennel Club (Derby Lane), a family business and a life-long supporter of animal welfare. She volunteered in the community as a Director of the Florence Crittenden home for unwed mothers, was an active and sustaining member of Junior League where she was social editor and business manager of Boots, the League’s internal newsletter, and served on the Finance Committee. She was a member of the Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts and a supporter of numerous organizations and charities. She donated to University of South Florida and University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She met weekly to play bridge with friends in the evening at alternating homes. Fueled with candy and coffee, the card playing went on until late hours of the night. She was a life-long bridge player until her dementia progressed and ended her last pastime pursuit.

When the City disallowed equines in the city limits, Frances Ann moved them to her parents’ Charlaise cattle ranch in Land O Lakes where they lived out their lives. It was the end of an era she had known. That’s when she joined the Salty Sisters at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in 1960 and came to be called “Fran.” She learned to sail in prams, and then the infamous Fish Boats. She raced a new class of sloop, a 13-foot Flying Dutchman Junior with a main sail, jib and spinnaker. Her skill and competitiveness

resulted in setting racing records for both the Salty Sisters and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, winning the Maggie Cup three years. Fran skippered in U. S. Women’s sailing Championship Regatta representing the SPYC for the Adams Cup where she was a quarter finalist twice and a finalist in 1971. She turned her attention to young women and imparted her skills to students at the Adirondack Southern School, now Boley Inc. Fran developed racing forums for women and founded the Florida Woman’s Sailing Association. She set racecourses with her Bertram 20 inboard/outboard, and served on the protest committee and often crewed on offshore sailing yachts. She also fished tarpon in Boca Grande, and mackerel in the Gulf, scalloped off the Tarpon Springs coast, snow-skied, scuba dived, white water rafted and salmon fished as she traveled to outlying places.

Fran became a licensed twin-engine pilot at Clearwater airport where she met her third husband Russell St. Arnold, owner of the flight school she attended. Her previous divorce canceled her original membership at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club; she received a new membership that she shared with Russ, as memberships were for men only. Several years later, she married her fourth husband, Jack Nohren, losing her shared membership. Fran battled with the Yacht Club Board of Directors over its gender and marital double standards. Since raising the issue in the eighties the Club adjusted its policies. Fran gave up her pilot license and obtained a captain’s license for 200-ton ships and steered through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Fran’s marriages were difficult. Her independence, willfulness, and restlessness no doubt interfered with marital bliss. Words she often spoke were, “That damn…, and Hell’s bells.”

Fran is a quintessential Floridian who traveled the world, tried many adventures, except sky diving, but home was and is here in St. Petersburg. Fran is survived by her daughters, Louise Weaver, and Peggy Bakely, son Paul Buchan (Marcie, grandchildren Don Bakely (Stephanie), Elizabeth Amann (Nathan), Lexie and Josh, and five great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers please donate to UF College of Veterinary Medicine and The Cathedral of St. Peter . There will be a private memorial service.

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