Frances Louise Brent
1894-1995

Frances Brent

      

Frances Louise Brent was born 12 May 1894, in Pensacola, Florida, and named after her father, whose birth day she shared. She was the 13th and last child of Francis Celestino Brent and Mary Ella Shuttleworth. Frances was only eleven when her mother died in 1905 on the day after Christmas. Her older brothers and sisters helped raise her, especially her oldest sister, Belle, who later came to live with Frances and her family.

Like her older sisters, Frances was sent away to high school. Frances entered the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Manhattanville, in New York City in September 1909. Some of her older sisters may have gone here also but at least two of her older sisters went to the Visitation Convent in Mobile, Alabama. Frances left the Academy in December 1913 and the records were not clear as to whether she graduated or not.

By the time Frances was born, the family was well off, living a privileged life. The family spent the summer months at "Brentwood," the family summer home and farm north of Pensacola. In 1908 the family went on vacation to North Hatley, Quebec, aboard their private train car. Just before Frances turned twenty, her father died in 1914. She continued to live in the family home with her unmarried brothers and sisters.

Flower girl at her sister's wedding

      

Frances in the hat she "had to have!"

When Frances was nine, her older sister Kate was married and Frances was a flower girl. When she was a little older, she and her sisters used to go to the big cities to buy the latest fashions. They would go to New York City to buy clothes and enjoy the big city life. According to the family, being the youngest child, she was spoiled and liked getting her way. One time she saw a feathered hat and decided that she had to have it. She was told no, but her father finally gave in and she got the hat, plus who knows what else.

Frances was very short, maybe the shortest one in her family, under five feet tall as an adult. Her grandchildren were all taller than she was, even when young.

On 14 November 1918 Frances married James Albert Whitted at the North Baylen Street home of her older brother Thomas and his wife. Albert Whitted was an ensign in the U.S. Navy and had been a flight instructor at the Pensacola Naval Air Station during World War I. The wedding was a "quiet affair" with family only owing to the recent death of Frances' Aunt Mary Ella Brent about ten days before. An uncle, Daniel Gonzalez Brent, died about two weeks after their wedding. After their wedding, Frances and Albert lived at the Brent family home in Pensacola. They also lived in St. Petersburg, where Albert was from, moving back and forth between the two cities.

Albert was an aviator, one of the earliest U.S. Navy pilots. After leaving active service, he started his own commercial aviation business, building his own planes and taking passengers up for short flights both in St. Petersburg and in Pensacola. By the end of 1922 the couple had two daughters, Catherine Eugenia "Jean," and Frances Louise "Fanty."

Frances' grandchildren remember her as being a great hostess, fond of cocktail parties and gatherings, but they didn't know that when she was young she was quite daring. She not only helped Albert build airplanes, learned to fly and flew in them as well, once even taking up her daughter. Albert was a celebrity both in St. Petersburg and Pensacola. In August 1920, Albert died in a plane crash not far from Pensacola in the bay near what was known as Camp Walton. He was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Pensacola.

Frances, now a widow, continued to live in the Brent family home on La Rua St. with her two children and some of her brothers and sisters. While living there she met another Naval officer, Harold Foster Fick, of St. Joseph, Missouri. They "eloped" in 1927 in Savannah, Georgia. Frances was in Savannah at the home of her sister, Cora Warren, babysitting for Cora's two sons, Alba and Brent. Skipper, as Harold was known, came up to Savannah and they married there, unexpectedly, with only two witnesses: Frances' two nephews, ages six and eleven. They returned to Pensacola and, with Frances' two daughters, moved into a little house on Palafox Street.

In 1928 Skipper was sent to California and the family left Pensacola for Coronado, California. The drove across country - not an easy thing to do at that time. Frances' sister, Belle Brent, with her two young nieces, boarded a train in Orange, Texas, after a short stay with Brent relatives there. The train had to be flagged down as it was not a regular stop. They arrived in San Diego, meeting up with Skipper and Frances who found a house in Coronado. Belle lived with the family from 1928 until her death in 1947 in Coronado. She was buried in Pensacola in the Brent plot at St. Michael's Cemetery.



Frances, Skipper and their dogs, Pat & Midge


      

The Navy continued to move the family, from Coronado back to Pensacola and then back again to Coronado. In 1935 they moved to Washington D.C. and then to Norfolk before being transferred to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii in 1939. They only stayed a year in Honolulu, leaving shortly after the wedding of their oldest daughter, Jean, to Ensign Charles Healy. After a year in Rhode Island, Skipper, Frances, Fanty and Belle moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where Skipper worked to develop the Aviation Training Department. At the end of World War II, Frances and Skipper, who had been aboard the aircraft carrier, the Bon Homme Richard, at the close of the war in the Pacific, returned to Coronado where they made their home for the rest of their lives.

Skipper died in October, 1985, and Frances lived until the age of 101 in 1995. They are both buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego, California.


Related Links
Record of birth in the Brent family Bible
Bible record of baptism of Frances Louise Brent
More photos of Frances
Two photographs of Frances as a young child at the Brent summer home "Brentwood"
Record of marriage: Frances Brent and Albert Whitted
Announcement of marriage of Frances Brent Whitted and Lt. Harold Foster Fick
Marriage license of Frances Brent Whitted and Lt. Harold Foster Fick
Gravestone of Frances and Harold Fick
Gravestone of Albert Whitted
Obituary of Frances Brent Fick
Obituary of Harold Foster Fick
Newspaper article on death of Albert Whitted





Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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3 Apr 2012
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