Lasting Memories

Frances Halstenrud Ragno
Oct. 15, 1925-Oct. 13, 2021
Albany, California

Frances Rose Halstenrud Ragno died peacefully on October 13, 2021, in Stanford, CA, surrounded by family.  The oldest of three children born to Frances M. Bouska and Carl J. Halstenrud, Fran grew up in Albany, CA where her father worked nearby for Standard Oil. Her parents, of Bohemian and Norwegian descent, met in Long Beach, and moved together to Northern California. Fran’s lifelong love of travel may have been sparked by childhood trips back to Kansas and Minnesota to visit extended family in the Midwest communities where her parents grew up.

Fran attended Albany public schools, U.C. Berkeley, and graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science, where she was a member of Delta Gamma sorority and made cherished, lifelong friends. At UCLA she met her future husband, Donald Ragno. Upon graduation, they married and moved to Palo Alto, where they raised five boys.

A devoted mother, skilled cook, talented homemaker and hostess, and loyal friend, Fran was also a dedicated volunteer at Allied Arts (Children’s Hospital at Stanford), and a teaching docent for the Committee for Art at Stanford, giving countless presentations in local public schools, leading sculpture walks on campus, and spending many hours through the years preparing for and working at Treasure Market. After her children were grown, she worked for multiple years for a friend’s estate sale business, Heirloom Estate Sales, as well as at Nature’s Octagon in Sharon Heights, as a co-owner and enthusiastic floral designer. 

A dedicated artist beginning in the 1960’s with abstract watercolors, Fran studied and painted landscapes and still lifes in watercolors, oils, and acrylics, and exhibited her work locally. Photography was another love, particularly flowers and doors. An inveterate traveller, Fran enjoyed many trips abroad with Don, mutual friends, and family. She created wonderful albums of photos upon returning from each far-flung locale, and loved sharing stories about her experiences.

In addition to her beloved sons, Fran welcomed the addition of girlfriends and daughters-in-law to the family, along with the arrival of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Fran and Don’s lovely home was always a welcoming, special place for friends and family and she extended hospitality and warmth unstintingly to all who crossed its threshold. In recent years, Fran was a resident of the Vi in Palo Alto.

Fran is survived by her brother, Gerald Halstenrud (Virginia), her sons, Brock, Matt, John, Marty (Joan),and Donald Jr. (Jennifer), her grandchildren Kirsten Poole (Dave), Jason, Ashley Hall (Andrew), Casey, Julia, Robert (Lizzy), and Meredith Ragno Arora (Eshaan), and six great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald, and a sister, Dorothy. The family would also like to thank Fran’s remarkable and loving team of caregivers through the years including Lupe Fakalelu, Rhea Lazarte, Lily Zhou, and Kenza Bensouda.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, November 5th, at 1 pm at The Vi, University Room, in Palo Alto.