Cover photo for Frances Sturgeon's Obituary
Frances Sturgeon Profile Photo

Frances Sturgeon

March 1, 1940 — July 9, 2023

Frances Sturgeon, age 83, died on Sunday, July 9, 2023 of complications from pneumonia at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie.  Fran had a short, but courageous battle with leukemia. Born in Rowhedge, England’s oldest recorded town, she would tell stories of dancing and singing as a young girl to distract others in the air raid shelter, where her family would go to during air raids in WWII.  She also spent much of her youth in dance, with a special love of ballet. Fran worked as a nanny; She went on to care for the children of notable families, such as the editor of Vogue magazine, and the Bowater family, whose grandfather was the Lord Mayor of London.  Her first trip to Canada was with the Bowaters on a liner. She emigrated from England to Canada as a young woman, and met her soulmate, Rob, who worked for CSIS, Canada’s national security system.  He died a young man and she never gave her heart to another.  Loving the company of children and very skilled in American Sign Language, she worked with deaf children in Montreal and in Toronto for several years.  Fran also worked at Sunny View, a Toronto school focused on teaching children with more severe physical disabilities, keeping in touch with some of these students for decades until her passing.  Her final position was working for the Toronto District School Board as an Education Assistant, focusing again on children with special needs.  To say that she loved to be with children would be an understatement.

Fran never completely left England as she would spend most of her summers there vacationing with her sister’s family.  They fondly remember the fun they would have with her on these visits. In her retirement Fran lived with and supported her best friend, Helen, to raise her grandson, Nicholas. She was his aunt Fran, nurturing him to develop his artistic talents and showing him her love of nature as she was an avid gardener. Fran and Nicholas would often have a booth at the church fair where he would sell jewelry that he made, and she would sell her knitting. Nicholas’ best friend, Jack, was very special to her as well.  Fran was well liked by the neighbours on their street in Innisfil, stopping to chat whenever she could. She was very grateful for their support during her illness.

Fran availed herself to become the adopted aunt of the Coley family.  She will be remembered by them for Christmas tree hunting, making gingerbread houses (in a grumpy mood), teaching little boys to needlepoint, and staging a heck of a battle in a pile of playdough with plastic soldiers.  She had their hearts, and they had hers. Fran was looking forward to helping them to raise their babies, her grandchildren, but her illness was poorly timed for her plans. In her last months she enjoyed many visits with the babies, both in person and on FaceTime.

Frances has asked to be taken home to be buried in Rowhedge with her parents, Mabel and Wilfred Sturgeon.  Mabel lived to be 100, (which was Fran’s original plan). She will be dearly missed by her sister, Heather Turner, and her niece and goddaughter, Carolyn Donnelly, both of Rowhedge, England, who she maintained a close relationship with; Her best friend, Helen Holmes, of Innisfil, and Nicholas Holmes.  She was his devoted aunt; The Coley family, children Alexandra (and Nick), Chad (and Jane), Blaire (and Clarence), and Drew (who she watched being born!) and their parents Pat and Andy, who are forever grateful to her for being there helping them to raise their family and her unending friendship; The grandchildren Caleb, Archer, and Jordan, who added so much to this last year of her life. The Coleys always enjoyed her, even on the odd occasion when she got grumpy.  Fran added to every gathering she attended.

Special thanks to all of the nurses and doctors in the Respiratory Unit and the Cancer Clinic at The Royal Victoria Hospital for their support and care of Fran these last months.

A Celebration of Life will be planned for September.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to an organization that helps children.  It’s where her heart belonged.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Frances Sturgeon, please visit our flower store.


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