Frances Smith Leavitt died peacefully at home in Napa on April 26, 2020, at 95, following a full and happy life.
Fran was born in Long Beach, California to Dr. Turner Burton Smith and Rebekah Lynch Smith. The youngest of four children, Fran grew up in an active and loving household in Wilmington, California, where her father was the town’s doctor. She graduated from Banning High School and Stanford University, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and made many life-long friends.
After college, on a blind date arranged by friends, she met Dana Gibson Leavitt, who had recently relocated for work to Southern California from his native New England. They married, and were wed for 64 wonderful years until Dana’s death in 2016.
They settled in the East Bay, where Dana worked in business and they raised two children, Margaret and Jonathan, in Orinda and on a ranch in Moraga. When their children were grown, Fran and Dana started a new chapter in life by moving to San Francisco, and building what began as a weekend home in the Napa Valley and later became their full-time home. For over forty years, their home was a hilltop ranch in Napa, surrounded by their vineyards, where Fran established a beautiful home and garden. They entertained frequently to support favorite organizations, Dana’s business associates, their many friends, and, most important to Fran, holidays, weddings and special events with their extended family. She made even ordinary gatherings into extraordinary events, hosting several Thanksgiving weekends for 60 family members. She and Dana also traveled extensively throughout the world, including trips with her siblings and their families.
Fran was a life-long athlete who enjoyed tennis, golf, and skiing. As a child, she played golf with her father every Sunday, and she was devoted to the game her entire life. She was always striving to improve her game, and spent her 94th birthday taking a golf lesson. During her life, Fran was a member of the Junior League of Oakland, the Orinda Country Club, the Orinda Garden Club, the Orinda Community Church, the Metropolitan Club of San Francisco, the Napa Valley Country Club, The Garden Class (Napa), the First Presbyterian Church of Napa, the Silverado Country Club, and the Glenbrook Club on Lake Tahoe, where Fran and Dana maintained a vacation home. She made good friends in every setting.
Fran always greeted people by name and was genuinely interested in details about their lives. She cherished her friends and family, and they in turn were devoted to her. She was predeceased by her parents; her sister, Rebekah Smith Bogue; her brothers, Dr. Turner Burton Smith, Jr. and Dr. William Russell Smith; and her husband, Dana. She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Leavitt, and her husband, Alan Lilly, of Carmichael; her son, Jonathan, and his wife, Andrea, of San Anselmo; four grandchildren: Charles Lilly, and his wife, Jaime; Laura Lilly; Stanton Leavitt; and Dana Elizabeth Leavitt; and one great-grandson. She is also survived by her cousin, Edwin P. (Lad) Lynch and his wife, Leslie, of Lafayette, and numerous beloved nieces and nephews and their families.
Family services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Queen of the Valley Foundation, 1000 Trancas Street, Napa, CA 94558 or a charity of your choice.
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