Francine Gantz Rickett
Feb. 17, 1923-June 8, 2022
Francine Gantz Rickett, a longtime wife, mother, grandmother and entrepreneur whose richly rewarding life took her from Iowa to Indiana to California, died June 8, 2022, in Santa Maria, Calif. She was 99.
An abiding religious faith, musical passion, talent for floral and culinary arts and a commitment to family indelibly marked Francine’s many personal and professional endeavors and those of the people she loved.
Francine Madge Gantz was born Feb. 17, 1923, the youngest of four children born to Edwin and Madge Gantz, both of whom preceded her in death, as did her siblings, Edwin, Henry and Marjorie.
Following high school graduation and a stint of nurse training, she met Ned Rickett, an Army officer. The couple wed in 1943.
Their first child, Henry, was born in Greenville, Miss. Their remaining five children, Daniel, Roberta, Roger, Kerry and Ned were born in the town the family would long call home, Crawfordsville.
It was there that Francine helped shape and fortify the interests of her six children. She brought enthusiasm to her eldest three sons’ pursuit of football for the Crawfordsville High School Athenians, rarely missing a home game. Similarly, her lifelong love of music was reflected in her fervent support of Roberta and Roger as they engaged in singing, dancing and acting. Francine was a Cub Scout den mother for Kerry and the other boys and encouraged Daniel’s and Ned’s artistic pursuits.
Faith and family coalesced most Sundays, when, following services at First United Methodist, she helped prepare dinners that regularly included her mother-in-law, Mary K. Rickett, and often the family of her sister-in-law Jean Rich, whose daughter Patty maintained a lifelong bond with Francine.
As her children left home, Francine delved more deeply into her passions for gardening and cooking. She greatly enjoyed crafting floral arrangements, working for a time at Milligan’s Flower Shoppe, tending her own flower gardens and preparing floral arrangements for her home and church. Francine turned her joy of cooking into a catering business in which she renovated her Crawfordsville kitchen and hired help. The business continued in Santa Maria, where Francine and Ned moved in 1999.
Francine also made time to help those less fortunate, exemplified by her spearheading a 1967 campaign to solicit items from residents in Crawfordsville and nearby communities as Christmas gifts for people experiencing mental illness.
Raising a family, tending to a business and volunteering provided challenges, but deeper struggles emerged that affirmed Francine’s resolve and character.
Among them was a cancer diagnosis a few years after the youngest of her children had graduated high school, prompting Francine to undergo a double mastectomy. She channeled the experience through volunteering in which, one-to-one, she counseled other women who were navigating the same, difficult waters.
Cancer also would claim the lives of two of her children in her lifetime, Roger in 1973 and Kerry in 1998.
The following year, Francine and Ned move to Santa Maria, bringing them closer to their son Henry and his wife, Linda. Ned, her husband of 67 years, died in 2010.
Francine is survived by her children Henry, Daniel, Roberta and Ned. Her grandchildren, Christopher, Andrew, Evan, Tarin and William were cherished and also survive her.