Frances Louise Garrity, a resident of Southampton; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Oceanside, California, died on September 29, just a few weeks before her 95th birthday.
Born on October 31, 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland, she was the middle daughter of Gertrude and Karl Klein. Her father, Karl Augustus, worked as a conductor on the railroad and was killed in a train wreck when she was 10 years old. Her memories of him and her closeness to her father stayed with her for her entire life.
After graduating from Eastern High School in Baltimore, she took a job at the Sophie Tucker grocery store, where she met her husband of 54 years, Walter Aloysius Garrity. They were married on May 15, 1943. While her husband was fighting in World War II, Ms. Garrity worked at Glenn L. Martin, the aircraft manufacturer that produced B-29s for the war effort. During this time she gave birth to her son, Karl, while her husband was serving in Iwo Jima. She raised her son alone for two years before her husband came home from the war. In 1947, her daughter Patricia was born and then, in 1953, Bonnie Susan.
Ms. Garrity was a dedicated parent whose entire life was devoted to supporting her children and creating a loving and beautiful home, her family said. With Mr. Garrity in the military, the family moved many times, and she made the best of it and more. She was selfless when it came to her family, friends or a charity in which she became involved, survivors said. At the inception of the children’s charity Toys for Tots in the 1940s, Ms. Garrity refurbished used toys and dolls into Christmas presents by sewing clothing, fixing wigs, washing fur and painting faces to create like-news toy for disadvantaged children. The family living room was a crowded work space for months before Christmas.
Ms. Garrity loved to travel and visited Israel, England, Hawaii, Russia and France and went to Alaska three times. Her family said her adventurous spirit wanted to do it all. She celebrated her 90th birthday with a bonfire on the beach with family and friends in Southampton. More recently, survivors said, she surprised the Rogers Memorial librarians with her requests for information about American history, world and regional history, religion, Indian life, Braille, art and artists, ballet and opera.
Survivors said Ms. Garrity was a creative person her entire life, whether it was expressed in her sewing, drawing, playing the piano or as an accomplished artist in pastel, charcoal or oil. Her children have drawings of communities in which she lived or places where she traveled that depict life as it was years ago. She had an insightful intelligence, a memorable “joie de vivre” and she wore high heels and cowboy boots to the end, her family said, and had taught her children they could be whatever they wanted to be and not to let fear hold them back. She faced life with dignity, curiosity, courage and style, they said.
Ms. Garrity is survived by three children, Karl B Garrity of California, F. Patricia Garrity of Southampton and Bonnie S. Harvell of North Carolina.
A funeral Mass will be said at Our Lady of Poland on Thursday, October 31, at 5 p.m. Her remains were cremated according to her wishes. There will also be a funeral Mass at a future date at San Luis Rey Mission, California, which will be her final resting place with her husband.
Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton.