Lillie Frances (Carey) Lano
aka Frances Partridge
Exceptionally beautiful, exceptionally bright, and an extremely hard worker, Frances was born to George and Jessie Carey on February 26, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan. When Frances was 6 months old, the family moved to rural Ohio. After a job assignment sent George to California, George knew that California was for him, and moved the family permanently to California. First Sacramento, then settling in East Los Angeles in 1953. Being an exceptionally bright child, Frances skipped third grade, and was promoted to fourth. Frances attended Winter Gardens Elementary, Eastmont Jr. High, and graduated from El Rancho High in Pico Rivera in 1962. While in high school, Frances received a Singer sewing machine, and developed skills for altering garments. The sewing machine would become a big money maker for Frances in future years.
Starting at age 15, Frances worked part-time during high school, and full-time for six months after graduating at Marta's Boutique in Montebello. Owner Marta Rambaud imparted to Frances the knowledge she had accumulated over 25 years in women's clothing. Frances was being groomed to run the business, something for which she was not ready for at age 17.
Possessing excellent secretarial skills, Frances spent the next 7 years as a secretary in Southern California and in Germany.
In 1966 Frances married her first husband, Buddy Partridge, who was promptly drafted and shipped off to Germany after basic training. Frances followed Buddy to Germany, where they "lived on the economy", renting quarters from a German family. Frances spent 19 months in Germany, becoming life-long friends with the family's daughter Annie and her husband Gerhard. Frances, Annie, and Gerhard vacationed frequently together around the world. Frances and Buddy separated in 1970.
After working as an extra on numerous films, Frances embarked on a new career as a model and actress, working in commercials, print, fashion and film, and acquiring a SAG card. Frances learned early on to never count on the money from "the business", so she put her sewing machine to work, and became famous for her decorated Penney's work shirts. The shirt business really took off while she was on the set of "Evil Knievel", when a crew member told Frances that "George (Hamilton) wants one of your shirts". She was soon buying shirts wholesale by the gross, with a long list of famous people buying her shirts. No two shirts were alike.
In 1974, Donna Gibbs asked Frances to become her partner in her women's clothing store, Hometown Rags, at 227 Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Frances borrowed money from her sister, Tinka Carey, and Donna's parents, Gail and Lorraine Wyatt, to buy in. In 1977, Donna decided she did not want to do this anymore, and sold her half of the business to Frances. Frances changed the name of the store to the eponymous Frances'.
Frances had a passion for selling from an early age. At age 5, she sold seed packets door to door for a school fundraiser. Inspired by the success of this outing, she later sold cucumber sprouts door to door for 5 cents. Frances sold more clothing per square foot than Nordstrom's. She thrived on achievement, and she packed a lot into every day. Rarely in bed before midnight, 1 am was typical, and 4 am not uncommon. Frances never left the store until it was restocked, cleaned, and ready for the next day. She would then go home, eat dinner, and then sew alterations until late at night. She worked when she was tired, when she was sick and when she was in pain.
In 1983 Frances expanded into shoes with the opening of Foote Fetish at 219 Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Frances' sister Tinka Carey helped with the shoe store success by working there and becoming manager. In 1998 the landlord tripled the rent at Foote Fetish, and Frances merged Foote Fetish into the Frances' location.
In October of 2004, the landlord informed Frances that the rent would be tripling when the lease ran out at the end of December, prompting Frances to sell off the inventory and retire after 30 years.
Frances mattered to her customers, and they mattered to her. For thirty years she made an impact on women's lives. She loved what she did.
Frances was very creative. She had an uncanny ability to put together outfits. With the help of architect Dale Sexton, Frances designed the floor plans for the homes she built in 1985, and ordered the furniture for her new home 6 months before the houses were completed. The houses were completed ahead of schedule, and under budget.
In 1977 Frances met her second husband, Charles Lano, on the beach at 19th Street in Manhattan Beach. For Frances, it was love at first sight, a love that grew stronger over each of their 43 years together. In a quest for the perfect beach, Frances and Charles visited 10 different countries, from Fiji to Turkey, with frequent trips to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Frances felt her best when she was moving, whether it was exercising, or keeping the house immaculate. An avid and graceful snow skier, she had great fondness for Mammoth and for Aspen, where she adopted the local custom of changing your fur with every meal. To stay fit, Frances lifted weights all her adult life, ran, took exercise classes in a variety of styles, swam, played volleyball, and rode her bike. She enjoyed riding her bike on errands, on the Strand, and out to dinner. Frances loved to dance.
Frances never wanted to go to college, and was very proud of all she accomplished with only a high school diploma. A perfectionist, Frances always held herself and those around her to a high standard. Frances could not stand to see things deteriorate, and she maintained her cars, her houses, and herself in amazing fashion. She was staunchly Republican with a libertarian bent, a member of the NRA, and a supporter of the Armed Forces.
A devout Christian, Frances was raised a Baptist, talked to God and prayed in Jesus' name every day. She felt that God performed five miracles in her life, including the physical presence of Jesus in the pre-op room before a major surgery in 2008. Frances and her husband Charles both believed that their 43 years together was God's plan.
Frances is preceded in death by her parents, George and Jessie Carey, and is survived by her sister Tinka Carey and her husband Charles Lano. Frances passed away April 8, 2021 from heart failure.
Frances did not want a funeral or an obituary. I'm sorry, Baby. I needed to do this for me.
Published by The Beach Reporter on Jun. 20, 2021.