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Friday, April 21, 2023
5:00 - 7:00pm (Central time)
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
Frances Mae Milner was born at home, near Belleville, Kansas on January 21, 1934, to Donald Adelbert and Frances Sarah Milner.
Her young life was spent being part of a huge network of relatives and she had wonderful childhood memories and lifelong friendships with her many cousins.
Her mom, Sarah was a teacher in a one room county schoolhouse, near Agenda, Kansas, where she attended grades first through eighth. She often had to ride a stubborn Shetland pony to school, since her mom had to go to school early to start a fire in cold weather, draw water from the well and prepare for the day. When she was very young, most of her clothes were handmade and many dresses were made from decorative feed sack cloth.
Frances excelled in school and had dreams of attending college, but instead fell in love. She graduated from Belleville High school at seventeen and married Billy Gene Lang, May 20, 1951. Billy was in the Navy and right after their wedding, set out to start their life. Their first child, Susan Jeanette Lang was born, March 16, 1953, at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. When Billy was discharged, they moved back to Kansas.
A job opportunity came available for him to drive semi mail trucks for the Rock Island Railroad in Herington, and they moved there in 1955. Steven Dale Lang was born on November 2, 1955, Sheryl Kay, April 2, 1957, Scott Eugene August 4, 1958.
Frances was a full-time wife and homemaker in those first years but also sold Sarah Coventry jewelry for extra income. April 21, 1962, her husband, Billy, tragically died in an accident. At 28 years old, she was to be left with four young children, with no idea how she would support them. Fortunately, she received good advice and had a network of good friends, including her mom and stepdad.
Then, God decided she needed a good partner, and she met Richard (Rich) Gehrke! They fell deeply in love, and he took on the huge task of having an instant family. Quite daunting for a thirty-year old bachelor, who was somewhat on the wild side! He lived up to that task and worked his way up to being the supervisor at Greeley Gas. Through ups and downs, thick and thin, they loved each other, were best friends and true partners. And Frances worked right alongside as soon as Scott became school age. She worked as bookkeeper at J. C. Penney for a few years. From there she started at the grain elevator in Herington and worked as a bookkeeper, then office manager, often taking on other tasks, like “probing” wheat, a very taxing and physical undertaking. Working there from 1969-1995 she got to know all the local farming families, which grew to be multi-generational. She was spunky enough working fully in a “man’s” world. She managed to keep some of the grumpy old guys in line, but also endearing herself.
Frances loved her family fiercely. She was proud of her kids and grandkids and was always there to celebrate life’s “big moments” and that also included other relatives and close friends.
She had five grandchildren, Cielo Angelica Fox (Susan’s daughter) May 10, 1975, Brandon Lee Lang, March 25, 1977 (Steve’s son), Nahani Dahlia Fox (Susan’s daughter) May 8, 1978, Joshua Scott Lang (Scott’s son) December 23, 1980, Lindsey Tess Lang (Steve’s daughter) September 22, 1985, granddaughter by marriage Dixie Lang April 7, 1982.
Frances had her heart forever broken when Brandon was taken from us in an accident, March 12, 2007. The following year daughter in law Jessie (Scott’s wife) April 2008, her brother, Donald Paul suddenly in May 2011. Next heavy blow, she lost her best friend and love, Rich Gehrke July 19, 2012. Then sadly after battling complications from a brain tumor and 25 years of being very disabled, sweet Josh left us October 17, 2015. Most recently, her other daughter in law Barbara (Dee Dee, Steve’s wife) Lang passed due to complications of covid February 3, 2022.
Even though she experienced deep grief and many tragedies, she managed to maintain her fun, skunky wonderful personality!
Besides her family, her greatest legacy was the giving and sharing of her beautiful, crocheted creations. She was extremely talented and exceedingly generous gifting Afghans and so many other items. Frances was so organized in everything she did. Although she started crocheting earlier, she started documenting all the creations, what they were, who they went to, and what month and year from 1978-2016! There are upwards of over 250 items, mostly afghans. She also organized photo albums by month and year for over 60 photo albums. She was also very famous for her Christmas candies of at least 8-10 different kinds and numerous varieties of cookies, dessert bars and other tasty treats, of which she shared with lots of family and friends. Other hobbies include being a voracious reader, playing cards, exercising religiously, cooking, loved dancing, (had great partners too) and traveling to visit family out of state, having many fun adventures.
Frances is survived by her children, Susan (Kevin) Fox- Sponsler, Steve Lang, Sheri (Rusty)lang Alvey, Scott Lang, her beautiful granddaughters Cielo (Shann) Fox-Brassfield, Nahani (Drew) Bohan, Lindsey Lang, and beloved great grandchildren, Kaia and Dylan Bohan.
Frances loved her family and dear friends so much and loved every special celebration in their lives. She was fun, sassy, smart, talented, organized, hardworking and generous.
We miss you and love you forever!