Frances Barbara Leff Burnham, of Orofino, passed away on March 31, 2019, at Clearwater Health and Rehabilitation in Orofino with family members by her side. Her daughter, Denise, was able to be there to say goodbye. Fran was 88 years old.
Fran was born June 25, 1930 to Wenzel and Marie Leff in Mobridge, South Dakota. She attended school in Mobridge. She married Clarke H. Burnham June 26, 1949, and they resided in the Dakotas where they began their family. They had been married for 68 years at the time of Clarke’s death. They raised five children together; Jim, Rick, Roger, Dale and Denise.
In 1963 the family moved to Lewiston and then on to Orofino in 1964. Fran was very active in the Orofino community.
She was the bookkeeper for her husband’s construction company and enjoyed helping him design new houses. She could be found frequenting the hardware stores checking out new colors and products. She was active in the Jaycettes, Orofino Celebrations Inc., Clearwater Valley Hospital Auxiliary, the Miles Avenue Vigilantes and the P.T.A; she helped with establishing the hot lunch program for the Orofino Schools.
Fran was also very active in the Rotary Club. She was the first woman to join the Orofino Rotary Club and the first woman president of the Orofino Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow recipient. When her husband was Rotary Club’s District Governor she traveled with him to Australia and New Zealand. All these activities earned her the nickname “Frantic Fran”.
In her spare time, Fran enjoyed square dancing, traveling with Clarke, margarita parties and neighborhood get togethers. One of her very favorite pastimes was camping; in particular she loved a campsite that the Burnham, Schmidt and Kellogg families cleaned up and took care of on the Lochsa River. It was known as “Schmikelbur”. Over the years, many weekends were spent there where the kids could roam free and she and Iris Schmidt could play Scrabble and enjoy a glass or two of wine. Today it is called the Colgate Campground.
She loved flowers and gardening and picking huckleberries; she spent lots of time working in her yard, growing vegetables and canning the fruits of her labor.
For many years she made a weekly visit to Peck to do ceramics. She also owned and operated Fran’s Potpourri Shop in downtown Orofino and sponsored many craft classes including tole painting and quilting classes. Her grandchildren were blessed with being able to do craft projects with their grandma and to this day still remember her chocolate chip cookies. Her grandson, Dan, oftentimes ran away from home on his tricycle to get a cookie from grandma. Fran was a wonderful homemaker, mother and grandmother.
In 2000 Fran was injured in a fall and became disabled. In 2017 she moved to Clearwater Health and Rehabilitation Center. Her children and grandchildren visited her regularly making sure she knew she was loved and wasn’t alone.
Fran was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Clarke, her eldest son Jim and her grandson JaySon. She is survived by her sons, Rick (Janet) and Roger (Ellen) of Orofino, Dale of Spokane, and her daughter Denise, of Boise and nine grandchildren, Daniel Burnham (Melissa), Jody Burnham (Mar Cus), Cris Burnham (Rheanna), Corrie Burnham-Sande (Heath), Johnathan Rios, Tammie Rios, Bill Burnham (Jennifer), Jim Burnham (Danielle) and Gina Burnham-Beber (Nick), and two bonus grandchildren Charlene Knight-Beck (Tim) and Brian Knight (Shawna), and 19 great grandchildren.
She is also survived by her siblings, Wenzel Leff (Julianne), Maryann Croy, Helen Reede (Larry), and twin brothers John and Don Leff, and many nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place; a Celebration of Fran’s Life will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Orofino.
Memorials may be made in memory of Fran to the Orofino High School John Kayler Memorial Scholarship (P.O. Box 1592, Orofino, ID 83544) and the Clearwater Valley Hospital Ladies Auxiliary (CVHC Auxiliary, P.O. Box 2023, Orofino, ID 83544).