Frances Arlene Callaghan (Wright)
July 25, 1928 – July 6, 2020
“Great Granny Franny” Age 91, passed away July 6, 2020 surrounded by her loving family. Frances is survived by her son Larry Jack, daughter Linda (Ron) Grand, grandchildren: Jeni Chaffins, Adam Jack, Taylor Ann Grand, and Laura Kelsey Jack and her 8 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her first husband Richard Jack (2003), her two sons Tommy Jack (1989) and Brian Jack (2016), and her second husband and life-soulmate Tom Callaghan (1994). Frances is the great-great-granddaughter of Lydia and William Ferguson, who were among the first to settle on Lake Minnetonka’s south shore in 1854. Their homesteaded property stretched from Excelsior to Ferguson Point (today known as Gluek’s Point).
Proud of her family history, Frances raised her four children in Orono Minnesota on Smith’s Bay, Lake Minnetonka. She later went back to school and graduated from St. Cloud State University to embrace her passion and innate gift for teaching Special Education, which she went on to teach in Wayzata Public Schools for 20 years. She majored in the new degree program of Special Education, launched by Professor Stanley Knox, and under his mentorship she became instrumental in the Minnesota Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (MACLD). The MACLD was conceived as a group driven by parents of children with learning disabilities. Frances joined founders, including Gwen Martinson and DeeDee Slettehaugh, and under their tutelage became one of the core volunteer mothers who formed its nucleus. The MACLD went on to lobby the State Legislature, which passed Minnesota Statute 120.17 Subd. 3. This law has since required all Minnesota school districts “to insure that all children who are disabled and require specialized instruction to be provided the special education appropriate to their needs according to an Individual Education Plan”.
With the adoption of the Minnesota Statute, Frances, together with the MACLD group of mothers, extended their special education effort to the Federal level policy, including The Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act of 1969. On November 29, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed into law: (Public Law 92-142), now known as the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)”. Today, the IDEA governs how all state’s public agencies provide special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible US children with learning disabilities.
Frances dearly cherished comradery with what came to be known as “the Mother’s Club” before and after retirement. They were known for their incredible work ethic as well as the infamous weekend-long parties they would throw at one of the founder’s cabins on Pelican Lake.
Frances was blessed with the gift of patience, compassion and strong desire to help children to realize their full potential, which was apparent to anyone with whom she came in contact with inside or outside her classroom.
Frances will be remembered by the impact she has made on the many hearts of her students, friends and family through her steadfast dedication, strong will, feisty resilience and immensely loving and giving heart.
Memorials greatly appreciated to Kindred Hospice 8000 W 78th St #210, Edina MN 55439, 952-314-9738. (Published in the Star Tribune on July 19, 2020)