Santa's Senior SpotlightFrances Grace Cork

Frances Grace Cork

Frances Grace Cork, better known as Francie, was born in Fairbanks, Alaska on April 25, 1950 to Jim and Grace Ford. Her parents moved here from southern California in the late 1940's and homesteaded a large parcel of land. The 160 acres the Ford family farmed was split so that 80 acres could be designated as part of the future City of North Pole. Jim Ford was the first Mayor of the City of North Pole and won that title by a coin toss. Jim Ford owned Ford Refrigeration in Fairbanks for many years before working for Civil Service on Eielson. Grace Ford left the post office in Fairbanks to raise kids, then became re-employed at the Eielson Post Office when Jim's health began to fail in 1960.

Francie has many interesting memories of growing up in a small homesteading community. Back then, doors were never locked and Francie and her brother Joe would play with the other children in the small town from sun up to sun down, running through trails, and building forts and rafts which were taken to the nearest gravel pit to be floated on. Thirsty? Grab the hose from a neighbor's yard and have a drink. Sunday drives to visit other farmers were always exciting. On their "spy" drives, they visited the farms of George & Virginia Plack, Harley Hurst and the Howard Jones Farm (Aching Acres) which many of the local kids worked at in the summer months, all of which are well known to this day with roads named after them in the North Pole area.

The small school house in North Pole went from 1st- 8th grade and Francie was the last graduating 8th grade class in 1964. Francie attended Lathrop high school. Kids from North Pole and the surrounding area who attended Lathrop High School and Main Junior High were bussed into town. In September of 1968, Francie graduated and received a scholarship to attend hair dressing school in Anchorage at the Alaska Accredited Beauty College. Francie's mother and her brother drove her and her belongings to Anchorage via Richardson & Glenn Hwys. (The Parks Hwy. wasn't there yet) to Beauty school. The closer they got to their destination, the more upset her mother became. This added to Francie's excitement to finally be moving away from North Pole and to her new, independent life in the big city.

Anchorage is where Francie met Willy and the rest is history. They were married at the Ice Palace, a flat track - oval motorcycle racing track between the 2nd and 3rd heat, August 25, 1972. In 1989, the Corks moved back to North Pole, bought a house, and started a business next to Hawks Greenhouse, known as Corks Pit Stop which they sold in 1989. Shortly before closing that business, Francie went to work for the Dept. of Commerce, Divisions of Measurement Standards as the sole oversize/overweight permit clerk in the Interior and was there eleven years. She later worked as an Adjudicator for the DOT, Unemployment Insurance Division, until her retirement in 2005. She said that was the hardest job she had ever done and the most stressful.

In 1995, when Grace Ford moved to the Pioneer's Home, Francie and Willy settled in to the prove-up cabin, where they still live today. They have two sons. Their oldest son Jeff, lives in the St. Paul area and has given them two of the best grandchildren life has to offer. Jeff is a senior editor for Game Informer magazine and has written a book on gaming which Francie says is like reading Chinese. Their son Jason is a coach for the US Nordic Ski Team and travels all over the world.

Francie has been involved in the Senior Games, is a lifetime member of the Running Club North, and the Pioneers of Alaska. She is also actively involved in the Friends of the North Pole Branch Library, New Hope Methodist-Presbyterian Church and P.E.O. She was the editor and author of the Senior Spotlight at Santa's Senior Center for four years and thoroughly enjoyed it. The couple like to snow bird for a couple of months in Benson, Arizona and enjoy hiking, working out, and staying active. Francie has deep roots in North Pole and strong ties to the community. She doesn't see herself leaving the area any time soon and would eventually like to run for City Council.

Interview by Kathy Weber, Photo by Santa's Senior Center.

2018 Officers & Board of Directors

President: Goldie Southwood
(elected 10/2017 2nd term) 2019
ph: 378-3624

Vice President: Pat Arthur
(elected 10/2017 1st term) 2019
ph: 460-0809

Secretary: Karen DeMeyer
(elected 10/2017 1st term) 2019
ph: 987-0739

Treasurer:  Peggie Gurley
(elected 10/2016 1st term) 2018
ph: 388-3364

Board Members

J. N. Hunter
ph: 978-6297

Agnes Beavers
ph: 460-4152

Patrick Yates
ph: 713-305-2329

Appointed Parliamentarian:
William Sanderson
ph: 590-1746

Business Links

17 Mile Homemakers
Contact: Pat Thurman  488-2031

Friends of the NP Branch Library

Kids Paint Alaska
Contact: Tiffany Piser  750-9192

New Hope Quilters

Fairbanks Native Association-Community Services

Santa's Seniors Spotlight

1st Senior Spotlight - Ellen Nelson

2nd Senior Spotlight - Harold Tilleson

3rd Senior Spotlight - Don Dahlke

4th Senior Spotlight - Lenora Conkle

5th Senior Spotlight - Jeannette Gaul

6th Senior Spotlight - Eleanor Smith

7th Senior Spotlight - Ken Hobson

8th Senior Spotlight - Dolores Adams

9th Senior Spotlight - Leon LaSalle

10th Senior Spotlight - Lucille Reese

11th Senior Spotlight - Michael Thurman

12th Senior Spotlight - Ethel Stoneman

13th Senior Spotlight - Harold Lee Saylor

14th Senior Spotlight - Alma Rider

15th Senior Spotlight - Chuck & Mary Holt

16th Senior Spotlight - Pat Thurman

17th Senior Spotlight - Carl Gaul

18th Senior Spotlight - Bonnie Carriker

19th Senior Spotlight - Wayne & Beverley Million

20th Senior Spotlight - Hunter

21st Senior Spotlight - Pat Goble

22nd Senior Spotlight - John Boulette

23rd Senior Spotlight - Louise & Augie Niemann

24th Senior Spotlight - Irene Silvers

25th Senior Spotlight - Joe Geese

26th Senior Spotlight - Anna Powell

27th Senior Spotlight - Bill Blockcolsky

28th Senior Spotlight - Elaine Hawks

29th Senior Spotlight - Joe Shedd

30th Senior Spotlight - Victoria Thompson

31st Senior Spotlight - William Sanderson

32nd Senior Spotlight - Ardena Lavira Roufs Morway

33rd Senior Spotlight - Walter Gelinas

34th Senior Spotlight - Donna Pease Krier

35th Senior Spotlight - Carlo Zanazzo

36th Senior Spotlight - Norm & Fae Grantham

37th Senior Spotlight - Joyce Miller

38th Senior Spotlight - Les Warnke

39th Senior Spotlight - Gloria Brines

40th Senior Spotlight - Larry White

41st Senior Spotlight - Sharon Kubacki

42nd Senior Spotlight - Don Woods

43rd Senior Spotlight - Goldie Southwood

44th Senior Spotlight - Rick Thumma

45th Senior Spotlight - Jana Belle Gordon

46th Senior Spotlight - Barbara Sevier

47th Senior Spotlight - John Fischer

48th Senior Spotlight - Ellie Herrera

49th Senior Spotlight - Pat Arthur

50th Senior Spotlight - Virginia Kaufman

51st Senior Spotlight - Sharon White

52nd Senior Spotlight - Sharon Geese