Longtime Bland County Messenger correspondent France Shupe died Dec. 9. For more than three decades, Shupe reported on the comings and goings in Ceres. Her columns were filled with news about community events, weddings, births, deaths, potlucks, fundraisers, homecomings and more.
Shupe was a native of Bland County. She and her husband, Doyle, were married 54 years and had two children, Sam and Tammy, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Sam remembers his mother as a cheerful person with a special giggle who was always ready to make you laugh.
“You couldn’t hear what she said because she would giggle, and you’d have to get her to repeat it,” he said. “She was cheerful, just very cheerful.”
Shupe attended Ceres High School until the ninth grade.
“She just wanted to get a job and help make money at the house,” her son said.
She worked at the Tultex Sewing Factory, but eventually left to become a homemaker while husband, Doyle, worked as a guard at the Bland Correctional Center.
She enjoyed gardening and canning the fruits of her labor.
“She grew everything,” her son said. “Beans, potatoes, corn, peppers, cabbage; she canned it all. There’s probably still some in the cellar.”
Shupe loved her family, church and helping others. She enjoyed sending and receiving greeting cards. She and Doyle helped organize the popular Ceres Alumni Association.
In her Oct. 2 column, Shupe hinted at her ill health.
“I didn’t get any news last week,” she wrote. I was in Wythe County Community hospital on Sunday through Tuesday…. I was in the hospital for a heart attack.”
Then, in true Frances Shupe fashion, she thanked everyone who helped her: the rescue squad, doctors, nurses, and those who prayed for her, visited and wrote cards.
Sam said his mother had more heart attacks, followed by an upper respiratory infection, pneumonia, congestive heart failure and kidney failure.
Finally, she refused dialysis.
“She said to just unhook everything and let her go on,” her son said “She told us, ‘I feel like it’s my time to go and be with the Lord.’”
Three days before she died, Frances turned 83.
“All the kids came in for her birthday,” Sam said. “We had that room packed. All of her immediate family was there. She just loved that. We ate cupcake instead of cake and took a picture of her wearing crazy party glasses. “
She was with her family when she died.
“She was just a really good lady that everybody loved,” Sam said.
Shupe penned her last Ceres News column for the Oct. 23 edition. Her thought for the week was from Matthew 24:13: “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Her final sentence: “God, give me a faith that does not waver.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email email@example.com.