Even at 92, Frances Keogh Is still Hitting the Dance Floor and Crossing Items off her Bucket List
Born on Jan. 28, 1926—the same year as Marilyn Monroe and Hugh Hefner—Frances Keogh has had a zest for living life to its fullest since she was very young.
Originally from North Carolina and the daughter of a tenant farmer, Frances takes pride in her serious studies as a teenager and her drive to be active in her community. Those early leadership achievements landed her in college—at a time when few women took up higher education—and that opened up the whole wide world for her to explore.
“We didn’t have anything when I was growing up. We were very, very poor,” Frances says. “I started getting involved in our little town of 500 people—a couple beauty contests and I was a 4-H Health Queen. People started building me up, and that helped me see the value of my future.”
Frances eventually graduated from Elon College, where she studied business and religion.
After she married her husband, John, the twosome embarked on a grand life adventure together. The couple crisscrossed the globe and spent decades visiting, living and working in far-off places.
“My husband and I traveled and lived all over the world while we were working for AT&T. We even lived in the Marshall Islands for two years,” Frances says. “I started in management with AT&T in 1962, and my husband was an engineer with the company. It wasn’t easy being a woman in a management position at that time.”
“Frances broke the glass ceiling before the term was even invented,” says her close friend Joyce Easton. “From a rural farmer’s daughter to business management in the 1960s is quite a feat in itself…and Frances has done much, much more!”
Frances even formed her own chapter of the American Business Women’s Association in North Carolina and was nominated “Woman of the Year” by the national organization in 1974.
“I have always been an advocate for women in business and women in any career they want to pursue,” Frances says.
Beyond her outstanding accomplishments in the business world, Frances is also a noted poet, author and dedicated political activist.
Frances and John eventually settled in Southwest Florida in 1995. Unfortunately, John passed away in 2008. Her only child, James, also passed away in 2008, but she loves being close to her three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Frances is now a resident of Gulf Coast Village, and she enjoys being involved in the community, spending time with her family and friends, reading poetry and staying active—and she definitely loves dancing at the community’s Friday happy hour events.
“My husband and I loved to dance. We danced all the time, but he couldn’t dance after his heart failure issues,” Frances says. “I wouldn’t and couldn’t dance without him, so I didn’t dance for about 15 years. Now I’m back at it, and I dance every chance I get. I love getting everybody up and dancing!”
All her life, Frances wanted to take a ride on the back of a motorcycle—something she was never allowed to do as a young lady. Thanks to a special surprise coordinated by her close friends, in August she finally crossed the experience off her bucket list.
“I just about blacked out to tell you the truth. I was so excited!” Frances says.
Despite the surprise, Frances quickly donned a helmet, leather vest and riding gloves and was ready to hit the road.
Frances’ bucket list ride was made possible by Joyce and another close friend, Sheila Sweeney, who connected with local motorcycle enthusiast Dr. Michael Dreikorn. Upon hearing of their plans, Michael readily agreed to take Frances out for a spin on his Indian motorcycle.
“It was something I’d wanted to do for years, and I’ve never had the opportunity,” Frances says. “It was such a wonderful surprise and a wonderful day.”
“The stories she tells are endless, and her dancing, her love of ‘Mustang Sally’ and her signature [dance] move is amazing,” Sheila says. “She has such a zest for life and a love of God. It’s just inspiring.”
“She is just an inspiration at 92 years old to be as energetic and so positive,” Joyce says.
Among many other achievements, Frances received both the “Golden Poet Award” and “Silver Poet Award” by World of Poetry in 1985 and 1986 for her book, God’s Spotlight and recently was awarded the “Women of Distinction Lifetime of Leadership Award” by the Republican Women of Cape Coral Federated.
A few years ago, Frances also checked zip-lining off her bucket list, but her aspirations don’t stop there. Next on the list for this adventurous 92-year-old? Frances is hoping to try skydiving or hot air ballooning.
“I’ve always wanted to drop out of a plane,” Frances says. “I’m a happy camper! I’m ready to do just about anything.”