Frances Therese (White) Kageleiry, of Dover, N.H., died early Saturday morning, March 19, 2022. She was 89, and a frequent visitor to Martha’s Vineyard over the past 40 years.
Born on Oct. 10, 1932, to Philip White and Susan (Callahan) White, Fran attended St. Mary’s Academy for grammar school and high school, graduating in 1950. She had fond memories of walking from her home on Rutland Street through the woods to go swimming in the Bellamy River, and remembered her first bike ride on her sister Kathleen’s bike.
During World War II, she would later relate to her children, she remembered getting up early to stand in line at Ames’ store to get a quarter-pound of butter.
At St. Mary’s High School, she and her classmates would dance at lunchtime, but she said she “really learned to dance” when she began to date Jim Kageleiry, who was nine years older, and had been named “best dancer” in his class at Dover High School. As time went on, they’d become known as that couple who got on the floor to dance, and everyone else would stand back to watch.
After high school, Fran worked for the IRS in Dover for eight years, and married James Kageleiry in May 1958.
The story of how Fran and Jim met was part of family lore: Kagey’s Spa, the family store and luncheonette on Washington Street, sold penny candy, and Fran, 6 years old, would walk in and stand before the glass cases of candy, trying to decide which piece to select. “That one!” she’d say, pointing at a piece. “This one?” Jim would say, pointing at a piece a couple feet away. “No! That one!” she’d answer, while he pointed at yet another distant piece. Apparently the repartee made an impression on each of them.
Jim served in World War II, returned to attend UNH, then continued working at the family store while starting a career with New York Life Co.. He started dating Fran in 1951.
According to a diary she kept at the time, they went dancing, went to the beach, met each other’s friends, and fell in love. She wrote that she was impressed by how everyone smiled when he walked into a room. He would later say that he loved her gentleness, her impish sense of humor, and her beauty.
Once they became engaged, Fran became determined to make an ally out of her future Greek mother-in-law, who spoke very little English. She learned how to cook Greek meals and pastries by standing at Diamond Kageleiry’s side and writing down the measurements used to make baklava, koulouria, and spanakopita. Many of the recipes that remain in the Kageleiry family were first written down by Fran, who became known for her excellent pastries.
Jim and Fran married in 1958, and went on to have four children, of whom she was immensely proud, and eventually nine grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She taught her children to follow their curiosity, to use their manners, to speak up for themselves, and to keep trying when things looked bleak. She led by example.
She sang around the house, and in fact in high school was known for “never being without a song,” and occasionally used the French she’d learned at St. Mary’s to exclaim about the weather. She loved her Irish setter, Copper. She loved to swim, ride her bike, and cross-country ski. She made friends easily, and kept them for a long time.
She was a charter member of St. Joseph’s Church, and a lector for many years. She was always volunteering in her community — at church, at school, driving cancer patients to Mary Hitchcock Hospital for treatment. For many years, she was a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics, where she made many friends. She enjoyed participating in the Garrison Players, and was a member of Cochecho Country Club for years, where she learned to golf and enjoyed swimming. She became known for the beautiful, detailed quilts she made for friends and family.
She could occasionally surprise her children with skills they had no idea she possessed, never mind had mastered. Once, while the entire extended family was up at Lake Winnipesaukee, Fran agreed to go water-skiing. Her brother John drove the boat, and much to her children’s surprise, Fran immediately got up on her skis. They made a large circle around the waters off Moultonboro Neck, going out of sight for a while, then circled back to shore, where Fran casually dropped a ski and continued skiing on one ski, waving at her children on the beach, who stared back in awe.
She and Jim traveled extensively, to Europe, Greece, Scotland, Ireland, the Caribbean, and on numerous car trips with her family around the U.S.
She was a mid-century American girl who moved from her father’s house to her husband’s, then was immediately surrounded by children. When COVID hit a few months after her husband died and she had to isolate in her apartment, she reported that “she had discovered she liked being with herself.” That was typical: She tried to always look on the bright side of things. She was an excellent listener, a wonderful companion, kind, determined, curious, and gracious.
On Martha’s Vineyard, she enjoyed sitting on her daughter’s porch in Oak Bluffs, playing board games, and eating at Nancy’s Snack Bar on the harbor.
Fran was predeceased by her husband, Jim Kageleiry; by her sister Rose August, and brother John White. She is survived by her sister, Kathleen Ringeisen; her daughter Jamie Kageleiry of Oak Bluffs, her son Chad and wife Sheila; son Paul and wife Rosalyn; and son John Kageleiry, all of Dover; her grandchildren, Chris, Caroline, and Andrew Kageleiry (and wife Megan), Ian and Hallie MacCormack, Thea and James Kageleiry, Mya and Desmond Kageleiry; and great-grandson, Henry Kageleiry; and dozens of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
A wake is planned for Tuesday, March 29, from 4 to 6 pm at Tasker Funeral Home in Dover, N.H., and a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Dover, on Wednesday, March 30, at 11 am, followed by interment at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Dover.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to St. Joseph’s Church, 150 Central Ave., Dover, NH 03820.