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Click here to watch the Celebration of Life for Adrian Franck, which took place on Wednesday, July 26th, 2023.


In Memoriam – Adrian Franck   May 1936 – January 2023

Remembering our beloved congregational member and faithful alto in the Comox United Church Choir.

Adrian was born on May 10th, 1936, in Scotland to Dr. Esme (nee Gilroy) Hill and Dr. Richard Charles Jocelyn Hill who were both medically trained in Edinburgh. Esme and Richard married there in 1933. Adrian’s brother Alistair was born on August 27th, 1934. By 1939 the family was living in England. Their father was a Naval orthopedic surgeon in WWII.

In 1947 Esme emigrated to South Africa with Adrian and Alistair. Adrian was 11. Esme and Richard were subsequently divorced. In South Africa was Esme's mother - Eva Gilroy nee Shepstone. Esme's mother's ancestors were 1820 British settlers in South Africa, arriving in the Cape, and played key roles in the colonial administration. Much has been written up about the Shepstones and the Bissets online.

Dr Richard C. J. Hill was born in Cape Town, South Africa, to an English father who was a teacher and a South African born mother whose family was in the mining industry and in particular diamond mining in Kimberly in the Northern Cape province. Her roots were Scottish and French.

Adrian and her family lived with Esme's mother in the city of Pietermaritzburg in a home with black servants who cooked and cleaned. Esme practiced medicine. Adrian said she did not much like her grandmother Eva who was critical and quite a snob. Adrian was active in school and sports and had a horse which she loved. Meanwhile her father moved back to South Africa - Pietermaritzburg - with his second wife, and two children were born there. One of the children, Robert, became an orthopedic surgeon and left South Africa for England, then for Canada. He ended up here in Comox, working for St Joseph's Hospital. Upon retirement, their father and his wife emigrated to Canada and to the Comox Valley, both dying here.

Adrian's mother died of a brain tumor at age 54 on November 6th, 1953. Adrian was 17. It was decided that she would train as a nurse and she sailed to England to enroll in nursing school in London. She became a registered nurse in 1958 and sometime in the early 60s, she emigrated to Canada with a nurse friend. They came to Ottawa and at some point she met her husband to be, Jurgen P. Franck, born in Germany and seeking a position in the field of physics. They married and their first child Jens was born in 1965, then Ian in 1966 and Peter in 1969. Jurgen was soon offered a position in the University of Alberta (1967) and worked there for 35 years. He died suddenly at age 72 on September 25th, 2002.

Adrian described her brother Alistair as very adventuresome. He attended boarding school in Natal and on Sundays the students were given a free day. Alastair would go snake hunting. After finishing school, he joined the Rhodesian Mounted Police. At one point he was a crocodile hunter. He went back to school in Cape Town and went into journalism first in South Africa and then in London. He was editor of an African magazine in South Africa. He went deep sea diving.

He also fished for abalone, called perlemoen fishing. She advised that he was engaged to someone in England. But overall, she sees him as having been a loner. Her last contact with him was in London in the late sixties. In 1972 at age 38 he went on a solo sail in a small sailboat on his way to South Africa from Spain. His father, who was a great sailor, advised him that the sailboat was too small. Indeed, he disappeared off the coast of Spain and his body was never found.

Back in Canada, Adrian and Jurgen were living on a farm. Jurgen had decided he wanted to try farming. Adrian agreed but recognized that neither one of them knew anything about farming. Despite this drawback, they bought a farm in New Sarepta, about 45 km from Edmonton. They farmed and had animals and pets. Adrian had many stories about the predicaments they got into. But I know they thought it was a great experience and a great environment in which to raise their 3 boys. Adrian did some nursing and participated actively in the local community. She became involved in the history of New Sarepta, and without meaning to, got so involved she ended up being a co-editor of a published book on the family history of the area.

Their boys went on to University, careers, and families. Jens lives in Winnipeg, Ian in the lower mainland and Peter in London, Ontario. Adrian was immensely proud of her boys and loved to tell her Comox Valley friends about their families and their adventures. She missed Jurgen a great deal and spoke of him often. Although thoroughly German, he apparently loved everything Scottish.

I met Adrian in 2006 and I think she may have come here from Alberta in 2001or 2002. She lived on a rural property first with her dogs and then moved into town to a house next door to a mutual friend. I saw Adrian as a 'can do' person. Always busy and involved in a variety of activities from bridge to Scottish dancing to choir. She travelled a great deal. Always adapting right up to the end. Even in the final months when she was much less mobile, she could not miss choir rehearsals and lamented at perhaps having to give them up. I experienced her as a very kind person. And I miss her a great deal.

- from Mary M Gray March 2023