Frances (Matsler) Gordon
West Hartford, Conn. — Frances (Matsler) Gordon, born in Tucson, Ariz. on Sept. 11, 1924, died peacefully in her West Hartford home on Saturday, May 24, 2014, with her immediate family and loved ones by her side. She was predeceased by her husband of 37 years, Monroe Gordon, her daughter, Gayle Gordon, her brother, James Matsler, and her dear friend, Harvey Lyman. She is survived by her sister, Lorraine Diehl of Scottsdale, Ariz.; her son, Steven; daughter, Katherine “Kappy” and her husband, Peter Scoppettone and their two sons, Max and Sam of Lebanon, N.H.; as well as loving cousins, nieces, nephews and a legion of devoted friends.
Fran grew up in El Paso, Texas and was a 1945 graduate of Texas State College for Women. She moved to Hartford for a three-month job, fell in love with the city, and never left. Prior to her marriage in 1947, she was assistant fashion coordinator and model at Sage Allen department store in downtown Hartford. She never tired of dressing up, and was the belle of many balls. In 1963, she received the Best Hatted Woman of America Award by the Millinery Institute of America and The Hartford Courant.
She loved spending time in her second home on the Connecticut shore in Madison, adored traveling and meeting people, and treasured her family and her many friends. A beautiful and stylish woman with a personality as big as the state of Texas, Fran was a born publicist, tireless volunteer, and exceptional organizer with a lifelong dedication to the arts. She was fond of saying that she found things that were important and that no one else wanted to do, and did them.
She helped form the Connecticut Opera’s Opera Guild and handled Guild publicity for 25 years as well as serving as its president. In 1960, she helped organize the Coordinating Council for the Arts and was in charge of publicity. She was a founding member, president, and secretary of the first chapter of Women in Communications in Connecticut, did public relations for the Child and Family Services Horse Show, and was a frequent guest on Brad Davis’s radio show. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Mark Twain House where she founded and was president of the Women’s Committee (later renamed The Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum), one of her proudest achievements. A garden there was named in her honor. She also was a founding member of the Women’s Auxiliary at the University of Hartford and was a long-time member of the Town and County Club. She developed and ran the Bushnell’s Children’s Theater for 20 years, retiring in 1994. She will be missed by all who enjoyed her exuberance, hospitality, and generosity.
Funeral services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 679 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford on Saturday, June 14 at 11 a.m. will be followed by a reception and celebration of her life at the Town and County Club, 22 Woodland Street, Hartford. Burial is private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Mark Twain House & Museum, the Bushnell Memorial, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106, Town and County Club Foundation, 22 Woodland Street, Hartford, CT 06105 or the Frances M. Gordon Class of 1945 Scholarship Fund at Texas Women’s University, Institutional Development, P O Box 425618, Denton, TX 76204-5618.