Frances Louise Saunders

June 23, 1924September 9, 2020

Frances Saunders passed away peacefully on September 9, 2020 in Merced, California. She was preceded in death by her parents Mary B. and John N. Saunders of Merced, and is survived by her brother, John J. (Hertha) Saunders of Perth, Australia. Frances was raised on the family ranch in Merced County and attended Applegate Elementary School. She learned to ride horses, shoot guns and fondly remembered picking fruit from the many old fruit trees on the property. On at least one occasion she took her shotgun and returned with doves to be cleaned and, it was rumored among family, she was a very good shot! In 1936 the family moved into their new home on 20th Street, in Merced, where Frances attended middle school. Though she loved her childhood on the ranch, living in town gave her the ability to make new friends and spend time with schoolmates. She later graduated from Merced High School in 1938. Frances attended UC Davis and studied Home Economics to become a dietician. Because of WWII, her classes were moved to UC Berkeley to make room at UC Davis for returning WWII vets. Frances earned her Home Economics Degree from Berkeley in 1945. After graduating, she stayed in the Bay Area and briefly worked at Providence Hospital in Oakland that she would later recall as “Pill Hill”. She also worked as a dietitian in Merced County for various employers before giving in to a desire to travel abroad and see the world. Taking a cruise to Europe with a couple of friends, she visited Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal, and Rome, Italy. The sights she saw fueled her deep devotion to the Catholic faith, and for the rest of her life she would treasure the visits she made to those holy sites. Returning to America she stayed briefly with a friend in New York City and quickly found employment on the East Coast. She was later hired by Brooklyn Union Gas Company where she worked for 25 years before retiring in 1982. Returning to Merced to care for her aging parents, she became active in church activities at Our Lady of Mercy church. After her parents passed away, Frances dutifully cared for her beloved aunt, Louisa, in San Francisco. Always religious, her work with the Catholic Church became more earnest as her life progressed. One of her greatest honors was to receive the Benemerenti Medal in 1996 from the Vatican. She never shied away from offering a Catholic point of view on many subjects, but was never one to argue about them. She was confident in her faith and knew it was only a matter of time before you would agree with her. She joined the Young Ladies Institute in 1949 where she served as president and was later made an honorary lifetime member. Her association with the Young Ladies Institute was central to her life and she cherished the work they did, and the ladies she worked alongside. She became an active member of United for Life of Merced County in 1981 and served on its board of directors for many years. She worked tirelessly on selling fund-raising corsages for Mother’s Day, coordinating buses for March for Life rallies, and never missed a bake sale. She lived humbly so she could donate to causes she cared for. The family would like to thank the staff at Mission Gardens and Bristol Hospice for their loving care and making Frances’ world a gentler place. An outdoor mass will take place on September 24, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. preceded by a rosary starting at 8:30 a.m. at St. Patricks’ Church, Yosemite Avenue, Merced. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, a reception will not be held. Private graveside ceremonies will be held for family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Frances Saunders Foundation, 388 E. Yosemite Avenue, Suite 200-B, Merced, CA 95340, or a charity of your choice.


  • Rosary Service

    Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Funeral Mass

    Thursday, September 24, 2020


Frances Louise Saunders

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Teresita Valencia

September 15, 2020

My deepest condolences for the family, Frances will be deeply missed, I have many fond memories.
RIP Frances.
Mission Gardens staff


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