Frances Bohannon Nelson, a resident of Woodside for 55 years and a Peninsula real estate icon and philanthropist, died in her sleep on Saturday, Nov. 23. She was 91.
Frances Bohannon Nelson
After graduating from UC Berkeley, she began working with the Bohannon companies in 1943. She was named president of the Bohannon Development Company in 1975, and her leadership guided the growth of the company, the family said, including the expansion and enclosure of the Hillsdale Shopping Center in 1981, amid an economic recession.
She and her husband Howard Nelson parented three children, Patricia Atassi, Linda Davis and Steven Nelson. Balancing work and family, she was active in public service. She served as regent and trustee of Santa Clara University, was on the Board of Governors of the Urban Land Institute, and on the advisory board of Peninsula Volunteers.
Honorary chairman of the capital campaign for the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Mateo County, she also generously supported Planned Parenthood and women's reproductive rights, notwithstanding her staunch support of the Republican Party, the family says.
In 1990, she was voted into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame.
In her leisure time, she liked to try new recipes in the kitchen and go fishing and hunting with her family on expeditions to Alaska, Canada, Cabo San Lucas, India and Africa.
She is survived by daughters Patricia Atassi and Linda Davis, and four grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Howard Nelson, sister Barbara Carleton, brother David E. Bohannon, son Steven Nelson, and grandson Ramzi Atassi.
Her nephew David D. Bohannon II is president and CEO of the David D. Bohannon Organization, which owns more than 300 acres of land in east Menlo Park. The company also built and owns the Hillsdale Shopping Center and development projects in the East Bay.
A celebration of her life will be held on Jan. 27, 2014, at the Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo. The family prefers donations in her name to Planned Parenthood, 1691 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126; Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, 750 Curtner Ave., San Jose, CA 95125; or a charity of the donor's choice.
● This Almanac story, "Being Bohannon," from Feb. 21, 2007, tells about the Bohannon family history in this area.