Frances Elizabeth (Pruitt) Hembree, 95, Liberty Mo., died on June 30, 2021, surrounded by family.
Frances was born to Milton Parker and Osa Mae (Cowley) Pruitt on Dec. 30, 1925, in Huntsville, Ala., the 12th of 14 children. It was during her childhood in Huntsville that Frances learned how to cook and bake, a gift she later shared with many in the Liberty area.
After high school, she worked for Western Union in Huntsville. She later transferred to Memphis, Tenn., where she met her husband of 68 years, Hubert, in 1945. He had recently returned to the U.S. after serving in World War II and the couple began a courtship “online” (via telegrams) before setting up a date to meet. They were married in August 1946 in DeSoto, Miss., and first lived in Arkansas where they started their family. They moved to Fairbanks, Alaska where Hubert worked for the Civil Air Corp. The growing family lived in Philip, South Dakota and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma before settling in Liberty, Mo., in 1957.
While also raising six children, Frances was extremely active in her community by supporting the local PTA, Girl Scouts, Meals on Wheels, the youth club at the First Presbyterian Church of Liberty, and she helped with numerous spaghetti and chili supper fundraisers. In the late 1970s, she started to work outside of the home again taking her culinary talents to Sebastian’s, Petralie’s Deli, Crawford House and Hardware Café. Frances’ pies and desserts were praised across the metro.
Frances loved to read and was an excellent storyteller, regaling her grandchildren with tales about a mischievous Peter Rabbit. Frances also had a competitive side that she passed along to her children and grandchildren when teaching them how to play Russian Rummy. She played in multiple bridge clubs, had award-winning penmanship and was known to have a Royals or Cardinal game on the kitchen radio while cooking up delicious meals that she shared freely. Frances’ home, filled with the warm aroma of fresh chocolate chip cookies or homemade chicken noodle soup, was always a central gathering place for her family.
Frances is preceded in death by her parents Milton Parker and Osa Mae (Cowley) Pruitt, her husband, Hubert, and her siblings Thurman, William Morgan, Leon P, James Myra, Josie and, Jennice Pruitt, Scyrenia George, Helen Irby and three infant brothers. She is survived by her children, Gwen (Jon) Preston; Michael (Corinne) Hembree; Debra (Tom) Funkhouser; Stacye (Bill) Parry; Randy (Kim) Hembree; and Meridith (Greg) Berry; 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren (a number that continues to grow).
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. July 11, 2021, at the First Presbyterian Church, 138 Main St., Liberty. Private graveside burial to be held at Fairview Cemetery, Liberty, MO.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Hembree Memorial, First Presbyterian Church, Liberty, Mo or Meals on Wheels, Liberty, Mo