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Frances Margaret Nuttgens Frances Margaret Nuttgens

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Frances Margaret Nuttgens (nee Walker)

January 3, 1943 - February 10, 2022


Frances Margaret Nuttgens (nee Walker) was born January 3rd, 1943 and passed suddenly February 10, 2022. For many, one’s life purpose shows itself faintly, if at all. Not so for Frances Nuttgens. From her earliest memoires she had but a singular passion: caring for children.

Frances grew up in Victoria, BC, in a house on Gladstone Avenue that her father built. It was here that Frances would gather and tend to the overlooked children of her neighbourhood, those whose parents were working or otherwise predisposed. At age 17 the family moved to Invermere, BC, however, her unfamiliar surroundings coupled with a stern and unyielding father, led her back to Victoria where she finished high school while living with her older brother, David. At age 20 Frances moved to London, Ontario where she worked as a librarian assistant, quickly developing a reputation for skillfully managing disruptive teens. While living in London she met and married Michael Nuttgens and in 1966, with the newly born twins, Peter and Paul, in tow, moved back to Invermere where Simon and Susan were born and where Frances first started fostering. In 1971 the family was on the move again, this time to Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. Although she worked every day of her adult life caring for children, on only a few occasions did she work outside the home. One such job was as cook and kitchen helper at the long-since-closed Cliffside Preparatory School in Shawnigan Lake. While at the school, Frances noticed that some of the boys who came from afar were left alone at the school on long weekends. Sensing their loneliness, Frances began inviting these boys home for the weekend. Although they came from well-to-do families, and Frances and her family lived close to poverty, the boys nonetheless seemed to relish in Frances’ open-door kindness.  It was during this time, as well, that Frances and Michael welcomed a three-year old foster child, also named Frances, into the home and whom a few years later was formally adopted.  Fran, as she is now known, was one of countless foster children who came into the family across the 55 years that Frances served as a foster parent. A feat that was ceremoniously recognized by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2017. Rob Cochran was another foster child who lived with the family from age 6 to adulthood. In addition to what seemed like an ever-expanding family, Frances also ran a daycare in the mid-70s to early 1980s and served as a respite home for children of varying ages and disabilities.  Although instinctively gifted in childcare, Frances formalized her natural inclinations through attending Malaspina College, earning a certificate as a Social Service Worker at age 50. This helped her gain employment with the Cowichan Valley School District as an educational assistant for over ten years, ending in 2009. Not content for her maternal care to touch only those geographically near, Frances’ love for children also manifested internationally through hosting exchange students and, most importantly, her decades-long commitment to World Vision, through which she sponsored scores of children and volunteered for a month at a Romanian orphanage.

Second only to her love of children was her love of gardening. In all respects, she tended her garden as she tended her children, with love, care, compassion, and an impenetrable belief that given the right conditions, anyone can grow and blossom into someone strong and beautiful.

Frances is survived by her sons, Paul (Sol), Peter (Tanya) and Simon (Nicola), her daughters, Susan, and Fran (Todd), and extended family, Rob Cochran, Thomas George, Brenden Edwards, Marilyn Thomas (Graham Hollingdrake), Violet Henderson (Francis Joe) and their families. To these names, must be added the countless other children who were loved and cared for by Frances as if they were her own.

A funeral service will be held for family and invited close friends at St. Francis Xavier church on April 9th. A celebration of life open to the public will be held later that day, from 1:00 to 4:00, at the home of Frances Nuttgens, 739 Castle Street, Duncan.  Sandwich, refreshments, and light snacks will be provided. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made on Frances’ behalf to World Vision, at https://donate.worldvision.ca/products/memory.  When donating, click the checkbox titled “I would like World Vision to send a sympathy letter on my behalf to the next of kin.” In the address field, please fill in Simon Nuttgens, 126 Slate Place, Naramata, BC, VOH 1N1


Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

Pages: 12

From: H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre

H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Joy Hachey
Relation: Friend

France was my first friend when I moved to the valley. We ran our cars fULL of children to parks,school and beaches. We kinda just collected children where ever we went lol
She was twice my age, so a cross of a friend and mentor.
I kinda thought she would live forever….One hella loving and tough old chick.

She told me once she will be “buried in a moo-moo “
Damn she was the good in the world..

From: Jenny Ingram
Relation: I teach at Bench School.

I am so sorry for this great loss to her large family. I always enjoyed working with her at the school, and her legacy will live on in the many lives she touched. I especially want to send a big hug to Brenden, who must be missing her terribly.

From: Kristy Martin Hale

Such a lovely lady that was always keen to help where she could. I remember her when I was a child always involved in the activities at Bench School, a favorite was the Christmas crafts at holiday time. 30 years later as a parent involved in PAC at Bench, she was there again! She always found a way to lend a hand. I could see she had a particular love for those that needed a little extra time or care. A life filled with love and service for others. Rest easy sweet Frances. ❤️

From: Alana Baker
Relation: Friend of Susan, Frances’ daughter

As a child, Susan and I spent much time playing in her busy house always filled with the noise of many respite or foster children. Her mom Frances was always rescuing the children of the world who needed it. It seemed to drive her very existence. My thoughts are with her children at this time who must be struggling to reconcile all the emotions that come with the death of your mother. May you all share together while processing the loss and may peace be found in your hearts along the way. I’m grateful Frances and her family were a part of my history and send love to you all.

From: Flory Nuñez
Relation: Mother of my sister-in law's husband (Paul)

Please accept our sincere condolences.

From: Randy and Pam LaBonte
Relation: Neighbour

The first time we met Frances was in her kitchen – that later became our kitchen – at her open house when she and Michael were selling the home they raised Thomas and other foster children in (some who came back to look for her months after we moved in). She was most concerned about us as visitors, handing us fresh-baked muffins and offering tea. It was obvious from the start that her heart was as large as her embrace and that she had cared for so many others in the community and beyond.

Frances blazed her own path, channeling her passion, caring, and resilience as a mother to all to bring her compassion and support to others in need. When she moved back to our little neighbourhood, ironically across the street from where she used to live, we watched as she tirelessly cared for Brenden, Thomas, and others. We were amazed at how she was able to carry so many so far on her own, continuing to move forward.

Frances left an indelible mark in this world and is now back with Michael and, most certainly, caring for lost souls on the other side.

From: Gina Wong
Relation: Son’s friend and colleague

What a beautifully written tribute about a life well and meaningfully lived. I never met Frances but know her son Simon. I always enjoyed hearing stories of his youth and upbringing and what a caring woman she was. My thoughts to the Nuttgens family in your time of loss. May we all care for and provide a relationship of belonging for the next generation as much as she did !

From: Helen J. Masters
Relation: Friend from school.

My Condolences to Frances’ children, whom I never met unfortunately, Except for “Little Brendan”. I hope you’re all doing well. Frances and I and our schoolmates went to George Jay, Central Jr. and Vic High. She was always a sweet girl. We connected in 2019 when I contacted her about our Vic High Luncheon. I have photos of us. Frances was delighted to join us after many years and I, and we too. (“You had to be there”, and we were, through those years.) I visited Frances twice around that time in 2019, and we’ve kept in touch emailing. Just lately, she has been on my mind. In fact I was about to email her when I received her Obituary notice. —Straight to Heaven, I’m sure. When we reconnected after so many years, I realized Frances was, “the Quintessential Mother”. I was astounded at her selfless lifestyle, caring for children at home. We will miss her, but we’ll remember her smile in school and gentle way especially. She left her imprint on us, who knew her.

From: Steve & Mary Ann McDowell
Relation: Fellow Foster Parents

Frances was a truly wonderful, caring person. She has helped so many children over the years become caring, productive adults in whatever path they may have taken.

Pages: 12

Service Schedule

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