Employee Spotlight: Frances DeRyder

Frances DeRyder, better known as Fran or Franny, is a valued member of the Wings of Hope Hospice team. Fran started at Wings approximately 17 years ago through the Green Thumb program, now called Experience Works. As I had never heard of this program, I looked on the web and found out that this is a national, nonprofit organization established in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to provide job placement for poor, rural farmers. Since then, Experience Works has evolved to include a variety of programs designed to help older workers enter the workforce, find more challenging positions, change careers, or supplement their incomes. We are so happy that Franny was hired by Wings!

The interview with Fran is interesting and a bit challenging as she is not able to hear very well. Her answers are to the point and spoken sweetly. I hope the essence of Franny is captured in the answers below.

What do you do at Wings of Hope?

“Copying, filing, making patient binders, anything that anyone needs me to do.” In a way Fran also takes care of the “history” of Wings as she is in charge of finding every article about Wings of Hope printed in local publications and she cuts them out and files them in a binder. She really does do anything anyone asks of her. Some of the other tasks she is responsible for are shredding confidential papers, watering the plants in the office and assisting with bank deposits and mailings. Once, someone asked what words described Franny and here they are: dependable, honest, positive, cheerful, upbeat, willing to work, gets along with everyone, good attendance, cooperative, respectful, courteous, takes direction, trusted, good attitude, loyal, flexible, works to the best of her ability, and willing to take on anything. Wouldn’t we all want to work with someone like Fran!?

What do you like best about Wings?

“How good they take care of me, they watch out for me.”  

Fran takes good care of all of us! We all love Fran as she is the “Grandma” to all of us. She brings a birthday cake every month for all those celebrating a birthday. And if you ask her, she will make your favorite kind! She has several candy dishes near her desk and she keeps them filled with all sorts of candy. The only exception is during Lent. Then the candy dishes are empty. But after Easter we all celebrate when she brings a huge basket of candy for everyone!

What do you wish you could change at Wings of Hope?

“I can’t think of a thing that should be changed. It is all so good. Everyone does such good work here.”  I know I would not want Franny to change. She is the heart of Wings. She is that calming, sweet presence we all need.

What do you do in your time when you are not at Wings of Hope?

“Cooking, baking…I’m not a gourmet cook. I do comfort cooking. I spend time with my family. We go to Lake Michigan. I love to watch the waves coming in. When we hear that the wind is going to be blowing strong we say, “Ok! Let’s go! “

I hear you are going to have a special birthday on December 26th. What are you going to do to celebrate?

“We are going to a hotel for a couple of days. We will just hang out by the pool with all the kids; my two daughters and their kids and grandkids. So those are my grandkids and great grandkids. I love to swim but the water is too cold for me. So I will probably just watch the kids.” I asked Fran if it is okay to share her age with others. She said “Well, yes! I am proud of it!” Fran is now 90 years old.

What are your goals?

Franny laughs, “Well, to work at Wings for 19 more years. Last year I told you (during her annual evaluation) it was 20 years, so this year it is 19!’

What makes you the happiest?

“Being able to go to work.  I get up in the morning, get dressed and come to work. That is so nice. Times with the kids, my daughters and grandkids. The lake, Lake Michigan that is. We like to go to South Haven mostly but we have been all over to see the lake.”  Fran often travels with her family to the Upper Peninsula and brings back fudge for everyone in the office to enjoy.  

What are some of the changes you have seen in your years? At Wings? In the world?

Franny laughs and says  “Too many! And not enough!”

What would you tell others about Wings of Hope?

“It is a great organization and they do a great job!”

We are all so very grateful for Fran and what she brings to this organization. We don’t know what we would do without her. She is a stellar example of what makes Wings of Hope Hospice such a great place to work. Thank you Franny!


By Betty Jo Ferry

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