Frances Nelms Jaworski Bruce transitioned on June 19 (Juneteenth), 2021 at 11:47pm. She passed away at home with her only child Joey Jaworski by her bedside, holding her hand. Her niece Nanci Nelms was there too, as were her cats Benji and Winnie. Her daughter in law Rebecca Hughes Jaworski, and beloved grandchildren Sasha Jaworski and Lee Jaworski, and her nephew Jimmy Nelms and nieces Lori Nelms, Candice Dumas, and Mary Cecile Patton and husband Mike Patton were present in Fran’s final days, as were her deeply-loved Bruce children and their spouses: Laurie and Jack Maddox, Emily Chapman, Kirk and Beth Bruce, Walter and Elizabeth Bruce. Also present in the days before Fran passed were Tarrytowne Estates staff and friends, including Beverly Warmuth, and lifelong friends June Levy and Marilyn Wells. During these final days Fran received many calls expressing deep affection and love. Fran died at home, just as she wished. She was age 85, when she departed following a life of adventure, change, loyal friendships and eternal love for her son and family.
Fran, a child of the American Gulf Coast, was born January 13, 1936 to Ben and Mary Louise Smith Nelms in Tampa, Florida where she enjoyed the simple pleasures of sun, surf, sand and shrimp. Her brother Jim and sister Mary loved their little sister.
The Nelms family moved to Houston, Texas after WW II, and Fran graduated Johnson Jr. High and San Jacinto High School where she met her husband Joe Jaworski. Fran was a Cover Girl for the Houston Chronicle Feature Magazine, and she was a Gaucho, Senior Beauty and selected as Most Popular Senior at San Jac.
Fran attended University of Houston and then followed her husband to Austin to support him through University of Texas School of Law. Upon Joe’s graduation and relocation to Houston to start his career, Fran expertly managed their home in Meyerland on Grape St. while Joe practiced trial law at Bracewell & Patterson.
During a business dinner in Las Vegas with friends, a Swami visited the table and proclaimed to the eight guests “someone at this table is pregnant!” Time would prove the Swami right, as Joey, the joy of Fran’s life, was born on March 1, 1962. Fran loved her “little peanut.” She was there for his first breath, just as he was there for her last. Fran was a devoted, supportive mother every day of her long, meaningful, beautiful life. Parenting, supporting and loving her son Joey was her number one mission in life, and she succeeded greatly in it.
In 1969, Joe, Fran and Joey moved to a beautiful new home on Saddlebrook Lane in Houston’s Memorial neighborhood where Fran was a busy, happy Kinkaid, Spring Branch Little League. Post Oak Y and Camp La Junta Mom. The Jaworski family enjoyed their home and neighborhood, often hosting family and friends there. The Jaworski Christmas Day party was legendary, featuring playoff football and Cuban sandwiches, a throwback to Fran’s younger years in Florida.
Fran and Joe were a striking couple, and Fran was popular and beautiful. She loved her husband and travelled extensively in support of his career, notably making the Atlantic crossing on the QE2 and meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip at Buckingham Palace during an American Bar Association trip to London. Thus began her undying love of England. She was also the official bookkeeper and secretary for Circle J Enterprises, a Jaworski family-owned, award winning Wimberley, Texas Ranch and Quarter Horse operation featuring AQHA Supreme Champion Magnolia Pay. Fran was devoted to The Circle J Ranch, spending summers, weekends and holidays with her Jaworski, Draper and Moncrief family members.
Fran was a lifelong music fan, and she possessed a great singing voice which she exhibited nightly on her Saddlebrook Lane back patio while accompanying Carole King, Carly Simon, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, among others. Often during these musical nights Fran would enjoy a glass of wine while reading “Blood and Money”, “The Exorcist” and the like. She passed her music gene on to her son who has played drums in bands his whole life. When Joey plays drums, Fran is performing too.
Joe and Fran divorced in 1974, and Fran moved to the Hammersmith Apartments off Voss. She did not falter in her mothering, but these were sometimes difficult years as Fran navigated life as a single parent.
Joe and Fran remarried in 1977, and the family lived at Hudson on the Bayou and later in London England. While she and Joe divorced again shortly after relocating overseas, Fran, again a single woman, parented Joey and excelled as an alcoholism counselor at a leading British Counseling firm “Accept.” She made great friends at work, and she was respected by her peers. Above all, she loved tea time. Her and Joey’s favorite London restaurant was “The Good Earth” on Kings Road where they delighted in ordering Lemon Chicken.
Fran returned to The States after a few years of service in England, and she married George “Sandy” Stubblefield Bruce III in 1986. They were married until Sandy’s death in 2018, and during their over thirty years together Fran and Sandy lived in Houston, Galveston, Morgan’s Point, Paris, France and Ruidoso, New Mexico. Sandy was a fabulous stepfather to Joey, selflessly helping him as he began his career, and Fran returned the favor by loving and supporting Sandy’s four children. Fran was a devoted “Nana” to her grandchildren - Lee Jaworski and Sasha Jaworski, and to her Bruce grandchildren Sean Cameron (Brett), Michael Maddox (Megan), Nick Chapman, Wilson Chapman, Cy Bruce, Thomas Bruce, Lauren Apollo, Sarah Bruce, Walt Bruce, and Caroline Bruce.
Fran and Sandy Bruce were devoted political campaigners, block walking and door knocking on the Island for Joey’s successful 2010 Galveston mayoral campaign. Fran enjoyed deep, lasting friendships from her Galveston Island residency.
During her 85 years on Earth, Fran positively navigated life, loyal to and encouraging of her friends and family. She was never cruel but always honest to the point of bluntness. She had a great laugh and a brilliant sense of humor. She was a seeker, and a changeling, never afraid to explore. She never talked down to anyone; she always treated people, even those who served her, as equals. As a woman she lived the struggle for equality, and she bonded with anyone, no matter their station, who felt that struggle too. She was attuned to the feelings of others, and she had an expert’s skill at cutting to the heart of the matter. She had soul. She has it still.
She made a difference to those she befriended and helped. She had struggles and victories, as we all do, and she lived life with love and acceptance to the end. Her life was a journey well-lived. I, her son, like so many, will miss her positive attitude and beautiful countenance, but her connection to so many during this life was so strong, her presence so sweet, her memory and influence in this world will endure. Vaya con Dios, Mama! Su hijo unico.
Friends and Family will gather for a celebration of Fran’s life on Thursday July 22 2:30-4:30pm at Unity Funeral Home 7730 Boone Rd. Houston, TX 77072. Gifts in Fran’s memory may be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at www.ASPCA.org
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