Frances Kushner

October 26, 1925 - May 1, 2023

It feels like the end of an era.

Frances Mazzagatti Kushner left this world Monday, May 1, 2023, at age 97. Until recently, she remained a frail but spirited bundle…eternally interested….a great member of the Greatest Generation, though deaf and on a walker. She is irreplaceable.

Frances (“Fran”, “Dollie”, “Cissy”) leaves behind son David Kushner (wife Carolyn) of Elgin, Tx; daughter Beth Kushner of Smithville, Tx; granddaughters Stacey Siragusa & Sherry Souders of the Houston metro; nephew Robert Murphy (wife Leigh & son Taylor) of Alpine, Tx; sister-in-law Cora Mazzagatti of Miami, Fla; friend Helen Williams of Bmt; friend Fr Antony Paulose of Orange; and many cherished family & friends. She is predeceased by husband Joseph Kushner, parents Kay & Domenico Mazzagatti, sister Rose Murphy, brother-in-law Charles Murphy, brother Roy Mazzagatti, and niece Brenda Murphy.

Frances was born Oct 26, 1925, a bright and multi-faceted child of the Depression and WWII. She was

  • Gifted with language & writing (and a stickler for good grammar)
  • An extraordinary seamstress (clothing she created & tailored could literally be worn inside-out)
  • A natural cook/chef (and generous with her recipes sought by so many and still prepared today)
  • An expert event- & people-organizer (long relied upon by her church, schools, and family to coordinate events and organize groups)
  • Young in body & spirit (her kids’ friends were house regulars for eats, games, solace & advice, hanging out)
  • A rescuer and lover of all things four-legged (local vet gave “Frances discount” because she’d regularly bring in critter foundlings, such as a possum or roadside turtle)
  • Essential to the success of Lamar University Environmental Science students seeking skillful content-editing & theses-typing (50 years later, they still sing her praises)
  • A natural counselor who listened to many a broken heart, dispensing wisdom, warmth, and encouragement

Fran was a substitute teacher at Assumption School in the 60s & did daily volunteer work for the school & rectory with sister Rose & dear friend June Braquet. She loved to dance but mostly gave it up when she married Joseph and his two shy left feet. Dancing was a way she exuberantly merged with music, which she’d so wanted to learn as a child, but money didn’t allow for piano or tap-dance lessons (she made sure her kids had those things she couldn’t). She could be relied upon to joyfully belt out  Amazing Grace, Tennessee Waltz, My Little Playmate, You Are My Sunshine, Cielito Lindo, Oh What A Beautiful Morning, & I’ll Hold You in My Heart…and when she still could hear, she loved listening to Ave Maria, O Holy Night, Beatles tunes, and many western-swing classics from her Harvest-Club-dances heyday, circa 1942.

Aunt Frannie loved play!—whether cards, dominos, crossword puzzles, or board games (expect to lose at Scrabble), real-deal snowball fights with kids when she was 50 (and the other adults were in the house), planning,  hosting, and making Italian goodies for St Joseph altars, beachcombing, impromptu trips, drives to the Port Arthur seawall to “look for boats”, going to look at Christmas lights. She loved & responded to the word “Go!”.

Frances was a devout Catholic, usually attending daily Mass & Tuesday-night Novenas when she was stronger. She loved her faith. Rosaries, blessed medals & scapulars, crucifixes, and prayer were constant but quiet companions, never pushing away those of different beliefs.

She was a bit complicated, an ironically shy people-person who didn’t recognize her worthiness….nor how she was loved…nor how talented she was…sometimes sad beyond repair. Despite her small stature, she could be a stunningly fierce adversary.

Fran loved all things red, and driving marathon, nonstop distances in her little red car (her driving explained why red cars get higher insurance premiums).  She housed a football-player appetite in her 5’2″, 120 lb body, and gobbled pastas and sweets with no blood-sugar consequences—goodies were Dollie-fuel. And like many a songbird, she had plenty vocal volume in her small frame (no one had a problem hearing her). She loved sweetheart roses, green lizards, and growing things. Her vision may have been savant level—it was normal for her to stand in a patch of clover and effortlessly see, then pick, 4- and 5-leaf-clover, one after another, til she had a bouquet of them. She picked up on things even young people with perfect vision missed; as husband Joe would tell their kids, “sneaking anything past Mom is like trying to sneak sunrise past a rooster”.

She was a true friend and could be relied upon to give whatever was needed (money, rescue, guidance, and TLC), and to keep confidences. She had healing hands…with a touch that cannot be taught…intuiting “where the hurt is” & vanquishing it when she laid her hands on the afflicted area. She took such good care of her ailing mother, & the loss of her sister Rose left a crater she couldn’t fill.

We feel she had a fairly gentle exit.

And we miss her terribly.

Soar….and be at peace, Mom.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions for Ms. Kushner may be made to The Humane Society of Southeast Texas, 2050 Spindletop Avenue, Beaumont Texas 77705 or Some Other Place PO Box 0843 Beaumont, Texas 77704; or any organization providing aid & comfort.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 4445 Avenue A, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. Her interment will follow at Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont. Masks requested indoors, but not required.


Mass of Christian Burial

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church
  • 4445, Ave A, Beaumont, TX, 77705,
  • May 10, 2023
  • 10:00 am


Magnolia Cemetery
  • 2291, Pine St, Beaumont, TX, 77703,

Comments (10)

    Ginger Wood says:

    David and Beth,
    I have searched often for news of your mom.. I realized time had to run out for her and I feel so badly I was unable to reach out to her successfully. I will cherish her memory and the wealth of joy that surrounded her. Prayers for both of you as we continue this journey without her.. Hugs, Ginger and Clarence

    Doug Markley says:

    Dave and Beth, it is sad to hear of your mothers passing. It has been too long since we have gotten together. I miss your folks and often think of them and the fun times we all had. My best to you both.

    Gloria Broussard says:

    David and Beth, so sorry for your loss. Your mom was such a wonderful lady. So many hours just talking to her helped in so many ways.

    Cheryl Halbert says:

    So many fond and wonderful memories from Lamar University, late nights playing cards, eating brownies and watching this wonderful lady cooking. Was always welcome in her home and never turned away.
    Rest in peace sweet lady.

    Paul St louis says:

    I have the joy, privilege, and honor to have met and known her daughter beth, a gentle soul who’s loving spirit has touched my life. I only wish I could have met her mother, she must have been an absolutely amazing person. I now see where Beth gets her incredible talent for cooking and experiencing all the joys and beauties that life has to offer. My heart goes out to her, a person who did every conceivable thing to care for her mother and love her to the very end. My condolences and heartfelt love.

    Drew Eisen says:


    So many memories with both Joe and Dollie. Along with Helen we enjoyed Sunday rides in “the little red car to the Wheelhouse and river, or for a simple vanilla cone at DQ. Dollie was always a joy to be with.

    COVID ended our fun, but the memories will never.

    Best wishes to your family and sweet Helen..


    susan benton says:

    Good night sweet Aunt Frances. What a long and wonderful life you were so blessed to live. Although we did not get to see much of her since the pandemic, we thought about her often and knew Helen was taking very good care of her. It truly is an end of an era!! Go Rest High on that Mountain!!

    Joan Wilcox says:

    Dearest Beth, As you know, my mom, Concetta Mazzagatti Cloninger, who had no sister, loved your Mom like a sister, and so our extended family had many wonderful, privileged years of enjoying her and your father Joe and our Italian community full of cousins , even though, yes, Aunt Frances stayed busy working to help the church and others. She was exceptionally modest, productive, loving and gracious and remains in my heart forever. Much love, Joan Cloninger Wilcox

    Emily+Wickler says:

    David and Beth
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Francis was a great lady. I enjoyed hanging out with Brenda and visiting with Aunt Fran.
    God bless
    Love to all.
    Emily Wickler
    ( Madaffri)

    Mindy and Jay Eisen says:

    Jay and I so sorry to read of the loss of your mom. We think of your dad often – such wonderful people. We are sorry for your deep loss.

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