Remembering Fannie Mae 3/5/1927 – 12/16/1987


To remember is “to recall, or bring to mind an awareness of someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past.” This special tribute is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Frances Mae Simmons (maiden name Marion). She was a beautiful, loving example of a strong woman, mother and friend. March 5, 2017 would have been her 90th birthday! Happy birthday Mom! Today we will remember this wonderful mother, aunt, sister, cousin and friend with loving thoughts, memories and stories about her from the people who knew and loved her most.  I get the honor of giving my tribute first, since I am the “baby” or last born child.  The bible does say “the last shall be first”!

My mother left her imprint on me in a special way, by leaving a legacy of love, joy, kindness and generosity.  My mother, fondly known as “Fannie Mae” or “Aunt Fannie” was the sweetest woman you would ever want to meet, with a beautiful, dimpled smile that could melt your heart.  She was very warm and sociable, and she LOVED a good laugh.  When you are blessed with a good, loving mother like Fannie Mae, it warms you all up inside, and seeps over into all you do.  Her love is something I grasped hold of and held tightly to, and now I give that same “Fannie love” to others. A poem written in 1954 by Dorothy Law Nolte is titled, “Children Learn What They Live”. It was popular for many years as a guide for parents on raising children in a positive and loving home environment. My mother made sure she provided a positive, loving environment for me and my siblings.  I learned how to love from my mother. I learned to enjoy a good laugh from my mother.  I learned generosity from my mother.  Most of all, I learned how to be a good mother by spending time with her.  She was the best! I believe that if everyone was loved by their mother the way I was, this world would be a much better place. There would not be so many people hurting because they never felt loved.

At one point, the world wanted to “be like Mike”, but I would much rather “be like Fannie”. If you want to know how to “be like Fannie”, you simply have to love, and love without condition. The Bible says in 1st Corinthians 13 that “love is patient and kind, love is not arrogant or rude, love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. That beautiful chapter in the bible about love also tells us that “if we speak in the tongues of men and angels, but we don’t have love, we are only a noisy gong or clanging symbol”. We have to have love, and not just for folks who love us back, but for everyone. That scripture was written for a reason!

Fannie Mae embodied the love that 1st Corinthians 13 speaks of.  My desire is to “be like Fannie” and show everyone love like she did. I want people to remember me for my love, joy and kindness.  I want others to feel the love of Fannie through me.  I want people to feel her kindness through me. We can all measure ourselves against the “Fannie standard” of loving our family and friends.  Do we love each other unconditionally and see the best in everyone? Does your presence make others feel good? Do you bring joy when you come around? Fannie Mae sure did, and if you are living up to the “Fannie standard”, that is a great tribute to the memory of my mother!  


I asked family and friends to share their special memories of Fannie, and their heartfelt responses are shared here:

Daughter Fai Mathews:

My best memory of my mother was her hugs. When I was hugged by her it felt like I was inside her body. Her smile would light up the room when entered, and her generosity would rival the best, she would give you her last and not even miss it. Special does not begin to describe her. Her dimples truly expressed she was kissed by angels.  I love my mother. She really knew what love was. She loved me for who I was, I never remember hearing her say ” I wish you were more like someone else”. Even when I told her I had to sell marijuana to save my house, she never judged me.  I miss her more than anything. Everyone should be as lucky as I have been to have had a mother like mine. Rest in peace sweet angel, for your daughter with the halo that has a gangster lean will join you someday.

Daughter Marguerite Lori Richard:

Just unbelievable! She was one of the most beautiful women on earth. And so for Women’s History Month I celebrate her, Frances Mae Marion.

Nephew Robin Summerrise:

Things I remember & miss most about Aunt Fannie:

Her smile. Not only was it a most beautiful and loving smile, it amazes me how she always seemed to be smiling despite the many life challenges she faced.

Her love, loyalty and devotion to her sister.

How she could let me know, and do it with that smile of hers, that she didn’t care how badly I’d rather be doing something else than chauffeuring her & mom around all day in dad’s van. This was during the time right after I got my driver’s license and before she got hers. I think of Aunt Fannie often and have very fond memories of her.  She was truly like a second mother and such a big part of my upbringing. I love and miss her so very much.
Love always,

Granddaughter Francescka Jones:

I remember a church picnic we had for Madrona Presbyterian Church. I remember running around in the grass with my family and church friends. We were playing Red Light Green Light, and there was a bee and everybody was swatting at it, and that doggone bee stung me.  I ran and I cried in my grandmother Fannie’s loving arms, and I asked her why the bee stung me when I never swatted at it, and she told me it was because I was so sweet.

I remember towards the end of my grandmother’s fight with cancer, I would spend almost every weekend with her. Before she got sick, I asked if I could stay the night with her at the hospital, so I spent every weekend in the empty hospital bed just to be close to her.  My name is Francescka, I’m named after my grandmother.  I was born two days after her.  She taught me how to fish, my love of baked goods, my love of going to the thrift store, and big hugs. I know she’s the one who gave me my artistic talent. I have never known someone other than God, who loved everyone.

Sister-in-law Alma Jean Marion:

She remembers and misses Fannie’s being in constant contact and maintaining communication with family members. She said Ernie (her late husband, Fannie’s brother) could always count on her to keep him informed.

Son-in-law Gregory Davis:

I remember the sheer joy Ms. Simmons had in being able to spend time with Kaila when she was sick. It was all too short of a time. I like everyone, was hurt by her passing. I dealt with it by seeing Kaila as a regeneration of Ms. Simmons. The Lord seems to work that way, when an elder passes He brings a little one along that eases the pain and helps us get through…That’s the way I see it anyway.

Family friend Mary Gartrell:

I remember when Fai was about to get married on New Years Eve, and we wanted to take a nap so that we’d be awake at midnight. Your mom came in and said “Shawn Kismet and Mary, you are not going to take a nap. You are going to stay up and watch little Robert because I’m tired.” And I knew she meant business because every time she said Shawn Kismet we better listen. Love, Mary

Niece Sarita Carter:

When I think of her I instantly picture her face and her warm and lovely smile.  She always made me feel loved. I remember going fishing one day with my dad (Uncle Budgie) and I was tired of being in the boat and fishing. He took me by the pier and Aunt Fannie invited me to hangout with her fishing on the pier. I said yes but I didn’t want to fish. I was so happy to be off the boat. We hung out on the pier talking and enjoying each other while she fished. She will forever be in my heart. Also, I can’t forget her delicious potato salad. Love You and miss you Aunt Fannie.

Family friend, Anita Crawford Willis:

What I remember most about your mom was her smile and how she was always happy and positive! I remember how much she loved her family and loved to fish!!!😘❤

Niece Marsha Miles:

I still miss her so much and she always smelled like baby powder to me. I miss being in the kitchen with her.

Eldest living cousin, Anna Mae Buchanan:

We lived right next door to each other on Lyons Street in Evanston, Illinois. I never realized that I would only see Fannie once or twice at the most after she left Chicago. Her mother had left, and Fannie was living with her grandparents. Fannie was named after her grandmother. I remember that she was not happy with her life here. She was the only one of the cousins who moved away that kept in touch with me over the years.

Niece Melody Marion Bickhem:

When we visited Seattle as youngsters, I remember Aunt Fannie most for her big, beautiful smile. She loved to laugh and beamed brightly at every funny thing. She was loving, kind and nurturing and had a warm and soft spirit, and a solid commanding voice like all her Marion siblings. And she loved her siblings dearly, one of which was my dad, William Louis Marion III. And of course we loved Aunt Hellyne too and Uncle Budgie.

Nieces Marvella Marion Bowen & Adriene Marion Strickland:

She had the prettiest eyes, big dimples, and a raspy voice. She was funny, liked to talk loud, and laugh a lot. We loved Aunt Fannie, and was happy she had her sister Aunt Hellyne, to be close to her.

Niece Cece Summerrise:

In addition to auntie Fannie’s love for fishing, I remember her love for baking. I remember the times auntie Fannie told us if we go next door & pick blackberries, she would bake us blackberry pies. I was so excited!! I’m sure my level of excitement was the same or close to being told I was going to Disneyland. I absolutely loved going next door picking blackberries & eating them as I picked them. I remember thinking, I better stop eating them or auntie Fannie won’t have enough to bake the pies…lol. Happy Birthday Auntie Fannie!! Love & miss you deeply!!

Family friend Julia Wight:

Fannie always struck me as a kind, loving person with a warm smile. She was such a good mother to her children and was loved by so many people. I know she loved fishing.

Family friend Joseph Bell, Sr. (my Godfather):

I miss all of her good cooking! She was a good cook. (**I will definitely second that!)

We all love and miss you mom, you were the BEST!! You will forever remain in our hearts!

I am ending this tribute with an old school song that always brings a smile to my face. This is my dedication song to my mom, “I’ll Always Love My Mama” by The Intruders. Click on the link and enjoy! 

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gregory Davis
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 06:08:42

    Excellent work


  2. Ronda Benware
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 06:24:08

    Beautiful tributes.


  3. Franceska Jones
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 18:08:14

    Thank you Auntie


  4. Janet R Mondlane
    Mar 06, 2017 @ 01:53:47

    Thank you!


  5. misshappya
    Mar 08, 2017 @ 12:08:44

    This story/article was so good! Nice idea to include every ones memories. I had just seen a picture of us with her while I was cleaning up and clearing out the other day. When I run across it again I will text it. Not happy that ain’t none of them still here (Dad, Fannie, Helen, Budgie) and wish we had grow up it Seattle with y’all. These cousins here in Chicago ok, but I think we would have had a whole nother level of craziness with Y’all! A Holy Ghost 👻 Fun & Run of time! I love my cousins in Seattle!


  6. Melody Bickhem
    Mar 10, 2017 @ 19:42:16

    Forever imprinted on this page, our love for a mother, aunt and friend. Thanks Shawn. Keeping the family close when we are spread apart by location, is one really good thing about the Internet. Love you all bunches. Our dad would have loved to read this about his sister Fannie. Melody Ann Marion Bickhem


  7. Chrissie Drape
    Mar 13, 2017 @ 16:06:10

    So beautiful, Shawn! And you sure do love other people with “Fannie love”.


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