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Portrait

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Francie Billotti-Wood was a mother, a teacher, an activist, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife. These weren't just titles. She embodied them all.

 

Francie wasn't perfect (she knew that; none of us are) but she was a great mother and she was never happier than when she became one. Chandler was born in July 2003, Gavin in October 2004 and Fiona in March 2007. Francie loved her babies passionately and they loved her.

 

I have vivid images of Fiona – Francie Jr. – clinging to her mother, melting into her as she would tire from a hard day’s play. I have memories of Chandler, such a good-hearted and loving boy, kissing his mom, whispering to her, "I love you." I remember Gavin, wild and carefree, defender of his siblings, looking at his mother with such love in his face.

 

Francie was a mother to her children and children the world over – those she knew and those she didn't. She was hands on and educated herself and others to better the lives of children. She was a teacher. She taught children; she taught colleagues; she taught herself. 

 

She would educate herself and then act. She was an activist. She supported anyone and everyone who needed help. She supported causes for children. She was a member of many boards, volunteer committees, and other non-profit organizations.  As a child she supported the World Wildlife Organization, the local hospital and the food bank. As an adult, she was a board member for Volunteer Frederick, taught religious education at Holy Family Catholic Church and coached a season of fall soccer through MVAA for Chandler and Gavin.

 

Francie was a daughter. She was born Francie Lyn to Sam and Mary Billiotti on February 27, 1976 in Frederick. Her mother is a strong, opinionated and loving woman. Francie inherited those wonderful qualities from her.  Her father, Sammy B, is a big man with lots of love in his eyes. Francie was daddy's girl. She loved her dad; relied on him; confided in him; shared her life with him.

 

Francie's passion for her parents and her family led her home to Middletown in the summer of 2008. She hoped to share a small town, close-knit, simpler childhood and life with her husband and her children, where they could be close to their many cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.

 

Francie was a sister to Angela, Sam and Andrew. Angela is kind, loving and strong. She and Francie were like 13 years apart in age, at times like mother and daughter, but always sisters and friends. I think that Francie got a lot of her compassion and desire to be of help to others from Ang. She was proud to be Angela’s sister.

 

Francie was also a sister to Sam and Andy, the pesty little sister who had her brothers around her finger. She enjoyed running with Sam and visiting Andy with her children.  Francie was a sister-in-law to Cassandra and Tina. She loved to visit with them. One of the most important things in Francie's life was her family and she was so happy and overjoyed to be home with them.

 

Francie was a friend. She was my friend and your friend. She was a friend to the world. She could find the good in all people, even those who couldn't find the good in themselves. She was a friend to the homeless man she gave food to, to the clerk at the creamery, to the moms at her children's school; she was a friend to many. She could talk to anyone. You might not agree with her, but it didn't matter, she had that thing about her.

 

Growing up in Middletown, in our tight-knit community, with our small graduating class of 184, everyone knew everyone. We had a core group that became friends young and stayed friends forever. We were together for girl scouts, cheerleading, catechism, and graduation. We’ve loved one another through time and distance. We’ve shared births, marriages, children, baptisms, birthdays, holidays, and deaths. Francie was always there when we needed her. She was and is a friend to us all.

 

Francie graduated from Middletown High School in 1994.  She was a high school cheerleader and her senior class president.  After high school, she attended Hood College and then transferred to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.  She worked for a hunger awareness/food bank organization in Jacksonville and for the University of North Florida’s Development office.  

 

In Florida, she met Chris Wood and fell in love in true Francie style, head first and heart full. Just like that! They got married in Jacksonville in March 2003. Francie worked hard to make a home life for them that was loving, happy and secure. And she succeeded until the end.  

 

This is just a part of who Francie was, part of her legacy. We loved her. We respected her. And now we honor her with the Francie’s Family 5K, which was inspired in part by the half marathon she ran in Virginia Beach, Virginia, St. Patrick's Day weekend 2009. We invite you to join us for this community event and help us remember Francie and her children.

 

Amy Norton