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Obituary: Frances Carmel Gaisser Ristine Gleason

Frances Carmel Gaisser Ristine Gleason
Provided Photo
Frances Carmel Gaisser Ristine Gleason

October 18, 1924 – December 27, 2019

Francis Carmel Gaisser Ristine Gleason died peacefully in her sleep, on December 27, 2019. Born October 18, 1924, she grew up in McNary, Arizona on the edge of a Navajo reservation, where she experienced both deserts and mountains. Her father, Charles Wirth Gaisser, worked as an accountant in a business that made wood pulp from timber. Her mother, Carmel Frances Curry, did part-time office work.

Francis and her siblings Mary Louise and Charles moved with their parents across the South following the timber trade.

As a young person Fran liked to dance, and studied dance at LSU Shreveport. Her church group there performed works of mercy for German POWs in northern Louisiana. While on an outing with friends, she caught a huge marlin in the Gulf.

Fran married Fred Pearce Ristine, Jr., a confident Army Air Corps lieutenant who was visiting Shreveport. The couple left the South for his father’s country house on the Philadelphia Main Line. As a young mother Fran taught Sunday School where Fred Sr., was a founding deacon.

Fran and Fred, Jr., built a house in suburban Wayne, PA. A skilled homemaker, an avid reader, and president of the Old Eagle Garden Club, Fran was also an art student to painter Anne Balbirnie

She and Fred spent Saturday nights dancing to the Big Band sound. One special Saturday evening, Count Basie and his orchestra visited their house.

In the late 1950s, the couple hosted office parties for Peirce-Phelps Distributors where Fred was employed. His friend, Everett Peirce, persuaded the Ristine family to break from the usual New Jersey shore vacation and tour the American west and its canyon lands.

Fred and Fran were enthusiastic travelers. A four-week vacation in the summer of 1964 inspired her children (Rusty, Chuck, John, and Laura) to leave the Main Line. Thus began the family’s legacy.

Rusty (Fred P. Ristine III) studied photography in Boulder, Colorado in the early 1970s. Chuck (Charles S. Ristine) moved to the Aspen area in the early ’70s to start a whitewater rafting company. He later married Johanna Mueller; their daughter Julia became a junior Olympian downhill ski racer.

Laura moved to the Aspen area in the 1980s; she later made a home in Lenado with her second husband Doug Carpenter. Laura found accounting work at Sport Obermeyer.

John Howard Ristine moved to Aspen after years of skiing vacations. He worked in the Snowmass Ski School, and later in accounting at the Aspen Post Office.

Rusty returned to the east coast with his wife Patricia O’Brien. For a while he worked for DuPont, then started his own commercial photography business.

Meanwhile, Fran and Fred planned their own travel business. Many trips as travel agents made them familiar with typical destinations as well as worldwide megalithic sites.

After Fred died, Fran married a family friend, Robert E. Gleason. When he passed away, she collected frog figurines to remind her of Bob, a former Navy Seal.

In her later years, Fran was a member of the Questers Antique Club. She became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), by way of her ancestor Benjamin Harris of the North Carolina Militia. Fran was also a guide at Waynesborough, the General Anthony Wayne estate.

On her father’s side, she shared a Southern lineage that includes McBride, Guthrie, Grisham, Hollis, Harris, Isbel, and Williams families. Her mother’s side connected with Curry, John Williams, Holmes, and Springer lineages.


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