Frances Wilson

Date of Birth

October 30th, 1914

Date of Death

October 9th, 2003

Memorial Meeting

Palo Alto Friends Meeting


Frances Hamer Kanzler was born in Portland, Oregon on October 30, 1914, to Jacob and Grace Kanzler and died on October 9, 2003, in Los Gatos,  California. She was crowned the Rose Queen for Portland in 1932. In 1934 she went to Germany for travel and study. She graduated from Pomona College in 1936 with a degree in German. She married J. Philip Buskirk in 1942. Philip died in 1995.  She is survived by their four children: Charles, Philip, James, and Martha  Buskirk Stanton. Six grandchildren also survive her. She was an elementary school teacher in Los Gatos for several years, and then taught German at Los Gatos Union High School. Later, in Palo Alto, she taught ESL and English poetry, as well as German, at Castilleja School for Girls.

Frances and her first husband, Phil Buskirk, discovered Quakers in the late forties as a result of a neighbor taking their boys to Sunday School. The neighbor happened to be a member of the First Friends Church in Berkeley. Phil and Fran were especially drawn to the social witness of the Quakers and joined the church. Phil decided that he wanted to work for peace and ended up working for the AFSC for many years. At that time Fran obtained a teaching credential in order to help support the family. In the late forties and early fifties they were active in supporting integrated housing, first in Richmond, California and then in Santa Clara County, where Phil was working on housing opportunities with the AFSC. During that time they attended Palo Alto Meeting for a while and then College Park (now San Jose) Meeting. From 1959 to 1961 the family lived in Israel, where Phil was the field director for the AFSC. Frances sometimes accompanied him to Arab villages and worked hard on trying to improve relations between Israeli Arabs and Israelis by organizing gatherings where they could interact socially. On their return to the United States, the Buskirks lived in Los Gatos and again attended San Jose Meeting, where Frances served for a time as the recording clerk. Fran and Phil parted in the early seventies after having moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. In 1977 Frances married Theodore A. Chadwick and lived in Bolinas, California. Sadly he died 8 months later.

Frances then moved back to Palo Alto and participated in the Palo Alto Meeting where she was accepted into membership on November 8, 1987, by transfer from College Park Meeting. She was particularly active in Amnesty International and brought frequent report and action alerts on behalf of political prisoners to the Meeting. She regularly attended a discussion and lunch group that met in the home of Madge Seaver every Friday. She also is remembered fondly for playing the piano for the singing before Meeting for Worship.

Frances met Robert Wilson when helping to sort books that had been collected by his late wife, Louise. Fran and Robert were married under the care of the Palo Alto Meeting on October 20, 1990. They lived in Palo Alto for a couple of years and then found it advantageous to move to The Terraces, a senior living complex in Los Gatos. There they lived together until Robert’s death in 2000. Frances again was able to attend the San Jose Meeting but with decreasing frequency as she became more frail, especially after she suffered a series of strokes in 2001.

Frances was an accomplished pianist and loved music, art, literature, and poetry and for a while taught a poetry class at the Terraces. As long as she was able she played the piano regularly, read voraciously, and kept herself young by making new friends and keeping up with old friends. She had a real zest for life that is an inspiration for many of us.