1930 – 2023
Frances Marcuse passed away quietly in her apartment at Vista del Monte on January 19, 2023. As she took her last breaths she was attended by her sister, a daughter-in-law, and two of her granddaughters. She was predeceased by her eldest child, Irene, and her husband of 73 years, Peter, who passed away in March 2022. She is survived by her sons Harold and Andrew, as well as 7 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Frances Bessler was born in Yonkers, New York, in March 1930, to parents who had emigrated from Germany. The Besslers moved upstate, where Frances excelled at school, becoming valedictorian of her Germantown high school class and earning a scholarship to study at NYU. While working as an au pair for Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany she met her future husband.
The couple’s first date was at the 1948 New York City May Day parade, where they carried a capitalist dragon banner. Frances was involved in progressive politics, working for Henry Wallace’s presidential run, with a platform that included the desegregation of schools, gender equality, national health insurance, and public ownership of large banks, railroads and utilities.
Peter and Frances married in 1949. Their honeymoon was cut short when the Peekskill riot against a Paul Robeson concert broke out. After Frances’s graduation they moved to Connecticut, where Frances earned a teaching certificate and Peter practiced law. Over the next 35 years she worked her way up, teaching every odd grade in Waterbury schools from first to eleventh, earning an MALS, organizing a teachers union, and raising three children along the way.
Over the following decades she continued progressive political work. In the 1980s and 1990s the couple traveled extensively, with longer sojourns in East and West Germany and South Africa. After retirement she remained active as a volunteer teacher, docent and literacy tutor before moving to Santa Barbara in 2017. We miss her, but find solace in the fact that she had a long life, well lived.