Frances Blair Awbrey

Posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gustavus resident Frances Blair Awbrey died peacefully on Dec. 21, 2008, in Gustavus, where she was cared for by devoted friends. She was 50.

A fifth generation Californian, she was born in Berkeley and graduated from Menlo Atherton High School. She attended the University of Puget Sound, the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and later the Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.

Her skill as a chef was her passport to a lifetime of traveling adventures, her family said. Among the many places she sojourned were San Francisco, London, Gstaad, Madrid, Marbella, New York, Nantucket, Anchorage and San Miguel de Allende.

She migrated to Alaska where she ultimately discovered the small town of Gustavus at Glacier Bay, where she became part of the community. She spent most winters in Mexico. In Baja, she adopted an abandoned puppy, Aria, with whom she later logged many miles on road trips from Alaska to Mexico.

In early 2006, she volunteered at the Mission San Ildefonso in Queretaro, serving the Otomi people in central Mexico.

Her family said she was intrepid and her passion for life was infectious. She was an avid flyfisherwoman and a formidable Scrabble player who enjoyed playing the cello, they said.

In October 2006, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in Tucson, Ariz., where she was treated for seven months. Thereafter, she moved to her family home to Atherton, Calif., but made several visits to Gustavus until her final trip there on Sept. 29, 2008.

She is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Awbrey, of Atherton; a brother, Craig Awbrey, of Saratoga; a sister, Lisa Awbrey, of San Francisco; two uncles, a number of cousins and three nieces.

A memorial is pending in Gustavus. There will be a memorial at 11 a.m. on Jan. 31 at the Julia Morgan Chapel in Saratoga Federated Church in Saratoga, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Breast Cancer Connections, 390 Cambridge Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306; KARA, 457 Kingsley Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301; or the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

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