Frances Joan Ferraro

On Friday, November 8, 2019, Frances Joan Ferraro (Miller), a much-loved mother and grandmother, passed peacefully in her home at the age of 81 surrounded by her children.

Frances was born July 31st, 1938, in Huntingdon Pennsylvania. In her early twenties, she wed Richard Walter Simon and raised 5 children on Western Avenue in Brookville PA. In 1996 she married Gene Ferraro and they remained together until his death, just one month earlier, on October 5th.

Frances was largely a self-taught woman who believed that common sense, curiosity, and level-headedness were the heart of being an active and engaged individual. She was a beauty inside and out. In her life she overcame a great many adversities and never let any of them define her. She always had a bit of sass or a hymn of praise on her lips.

Fran used her insightful wit and quiet intelligence to be a life-long champion of underdogs. She was gifted in nurturing confidence, pointing out hidden strengths, and seeing everyone she encountered as unique and beautiful. She frequently complimented cashiers and made those in the service industry feel seen and special. She absolutely delighted in the unexpected wisdom of children. Each year she blessed many with jars of her special mix of jams and jellies, which were called, depending on the recipients, “Fran jam,” “Gram jam” or “Nan jam.” The social impact of this generosity of spirit is immeasurable by traditional standards, but it was deeply evident in how she raised her children and influenced her grandchildren, their friends, their neighbors, and it also made her an adored Sunday school teacher.

She discovered the creative power of art making in her 60s and became a passionate painter. She had a strong eye for color and loved rendering the Pennsylvania landscapes that she held dear. At her height, she won many ribbons in local art fairs but most importantly she was immensely happy while painting.

She remained a lifelong learner, who loved to swim at the YMCA, cultivate flower gardens, croquet baby blankets and lace doilies, put up the bounty of a summer through canning, knitting, and whenever possible travel to see her children. Even after her debilitating strokes she continued on a path toward self-growth. She diligently read her devotions each morning and in her 80s became surprisingly adept at using an I-pad and especially loved challenging word games. Her love of life inspired many to overcome their own obstacles. Her legacy is that of kindness, generosity, and a robust tenacity. These gifts will continue to blossom in unique ways in the many lives she touched.

Frances is survived by one son; Richard (Tina) Simon of Virginia; four daughters; Toni (Robert) Truesdale of Brookville, PA, Julie Johnson of Brookville, PA, Jessica (Louis) Aquiler of Hershey, PA, Lisa (Jason Neal) Simon of Montana; one stepson; Tom (Marti) Ferraro of Utah; one sister; Marcia (Glenn) Vanover of Stewartstown, PA; one brother; Leroy Riley of Uniontown, PA; eleven grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; twelve great-grandchildren; and her nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husband, Gene Ferraro, Fran is preceded in passing by her parents Frederick J. and Faye (Riley) Miller; one brother; Frederick K. Miller; and one sister; Judy L. Miller.

Family and friends will be received on Monday, November 11, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the McKinney – d’Argy Funeral Home, 345 Main Street, Brookville, PA 15825. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. also at the funeral home and officiated by Pastor J. Ray Baker.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Laurelbrooke Activities Department or to the Gideon Bible.

Online condolences and other information may be found by visiting

If you were touched by Fran in your lifetime, please plant an iris in your yard next spring.

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