Frances Ridgway Brotzen, 1915-2011

The faculty play reading group, meeting in the Brotzen's house in 1970. Frances is in the doorway.

Almost exactly a year after the death of her husband Franz, Rice lost another dear friend and a stalwart member of our community. Frances Brotzen was a truly remarkable  woman–passionate, intelligent, curious, warm and utterly engaged with the world. The program from her memorial service in the Rice chapel on Saturday contains a sketch of her life story. I had it in my mind that I would summarize it here, but when I sat down to do so I realized that it isn’t possible. You really need to read the whole thing:

Click to enlarge.

When Franz and Frances came to Rice in 1954, they brought with them a degree of sophistication and experience that was not common in Cold War era Houston. Their interests were wide-ranging–art, theatre, music, politics–and their willingness to bring others (particularly students) into contact with these things was stunningly generous. Frances’s service to Rice was second to none. She was co-master of both Jones and Brown, a regular participant in the cultural life of the campus, a stalwart of the Faculty Women’s Club and a kind ear for many students. She and Franz were awarded the highest honor of the Rice Alumni Association, the Gold Medal, in 1989 for “sustained and diverse service to the college sytsem and to the university.”

 Frances Brotzen, RIP.

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11 Responses to Frances Ridgway Brotzen, 1915-2011

  1. C Kelly says:

    The only person I can recognize in the first picture (without checking) is Douglas Doughtie, who’s in the lower right corner. Other faces are vaguely familiar, but I’d be guessing if tried naming them.

  2. Helen Toombs says:

    I bet that that’s Franz, Jr, sitting in front of Frances. Franz, Sr, is sitting on the floor in front of them, and wearing glasses.

  3. Julie Brotzen says:

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the guy with the glasses is Dave Davidson, but cannot swear to it. My brother did not wear glasses until a few years ago. By the way, thanks so very much for honoring my mom’s memory. Franz and I really appreciate it.

  4. Julie Brotzen says:

    Franz is in the photo, but is sitting next to my mother in the background.

  5. Julie Ridgway Brotzen says:

    She was an amazing individual. Thank you for recognizing her devotion to Rice.

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  8. Raghav Wahi says:

    RIP Franz Brotzen – He taught me thermal properties of materials in RiceU. And Frances Brotzen – I think she helped me find furniture in the Rice Graduate Apartments. Om Shanti

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