Frances K. Bickelhaupt

Frances Helena Kershner Bickelhaupt, a life long resident of Clinton, passed away in her home on July 27, 2013.

She was born on April 28, 1916 in Clinton, Iowa to Dr. Frank and Anna Helena Kershner.  On September 5, 1938 she married Robert Earle Bickelhaupt at the First Presbyterian Church, sharing their lives together for sixty-eight years.

She graduated from Clinton, High School, Stephens College and Northwestern University.

Her community activities included:  Agatha Auxiliary, Church Circle, VNA, and the Dr. F. O. Kershner Scholarship committee.  Memberships included:  Life long member of First United Presbyterian Church, Alpha Phi, AAUW and PEO.

In 1970, Frances retired from civic endeavors and Bob from the automobile industry.  Together they began a new chapter in their lives, creating the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, which continues to operate as a private foundation. The Arboretum was endowed in perpetuity as a gift to their community, Clinton, Iowa.  They were members of APGA, Internation Society of Arboriculture, Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, Municipal Arborists, Urban Foresters, American and Midwest Hosta Society, International Lilac Society, Ornamental Crabapple Society and charter members of the American Conifer Society.

Honors received by Frances and Robert include: "Friends of Education Award", by the Clinton Education Association;  "President's Award," and "Award of Merit," by Mt. St. Clare College;  "Professional Service Award," by the Institute of Museum Services; "Education Award," by the National Arbor Day Foundation; "Outstanding Volunteer Award," by the Iowa Urban and Community Forestry Council and the Friend of Clinton Community College Alumni Award.  In April, 2013 Frances was honored as a Woman of Achievement by the YWCA, an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Those left to honor her memory include:  her two daughters; Frances Elizabeth (Allan Rathje) Hill of Clinton and Linda Ann (Peter) Galanis of Southbury, Connecticut; three grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; two nephews; and one niece.  Frances was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband, Robert and her sister, Elizabeth Kershner Van Allen.

Called "Memie" by her family, she will always be remembered as an eager and able learner.  She was committed to good health by swimming daily through her 96th birthday, to education, and to the enjoyment of reflecting on her world-wide travels.  During her last years, she donated more than three hundred handknit prayer shawls and hundreds of hospital nursery hats.  She will always be admired for authoring, A Private Couple Creates a Public Garden, which outlines the founding of the Arboretum.  Above all, Frances is remembered for her faithfulness to the mission she and Bob created at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum.

Following the wishes of Frances and Bob, her body was also deeded to the Iowa Eye Bank and the University of Iowa College of Medicine Deeded Body Program.  In accordance with Frances' plans, she requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to The Frances K. and Robert E. Bickelhaupt Friends Program, Bickelhaupt Arboretum, 340 S. 14th Street, Clinton, Iowa 52732.  The Friends Memorial has been established to further the future of the Arboretum to which the Bickelhaupts dedicated the last forty years of their lives.

A celebration of life service for Frances and Bob, will be held at 4 P.M. Thursday, August 8 at First United Presbyterian Church, 400 5th Avenue South, Clinton.  Private inurnment will occur in the future.  Snell-Zornig Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.


Click here to read Alma Gaul's article from the Quad-City Times