Frances Mary Pisoni Spasser Oliver died on the evening of January 10. She was 92.
Fran was born and raised in Los Angeles, her early years in the Hollywood Hills. From the beginning, she was a livewire, an athletic beauty who made real friends wherever she went. She was a true, loyal and generous person, a great listener, and quietly exuded those qualities without ever bringing attention to herself. Yet with her wild, irreverent sense of humor, she was cracking us up from her childhood to her final days.
She attended St. Monica’s High School in Santa Monica in the 1940s and found her way to the beach. She loved the ocean, sun and sand and became a part of the beach volleyball crowd back in the early days of the sport, traveling with her beloved son Steven and the groups of volleyball families to the tournaments held every summer up and down the Southern California coast, spending most days at State Beach or Sorrento with her gal pals to get in a few games before going home to clean house and make dinner before the kids got home from school and the men got home from work. She remained a member of that tribe to the end.
During the 1960s and ’70s, Fran saw the need among her friends for quality bikinis and trunks. Armed with her can-do spirit, endless energy and chic fashion sense, she started her own beachwear company, Franjie of California, to fill the demand. Notably, Franjie was one of the first to make tops and bottoms that could be mixed and matched as to design, color and size—a significant innovation.
A wonderful wife and mother, Fran created an elegant, warm and comfortable home in the Pacific Palisades. She doted on Steven and encouraged his creativity and free spirit throughout his life.
She and husband Hal traveled extensively. She especially enjoyed her participation in the social side of Hal’s business in the breeding of racehorses, accompanying him to Del Mar, Kentucky, Ireland and everywhere in between. She treasured the memories and friendships she made in that world.
Over the years, Fran also enjoyed ice skating (she was even scouted by the Ice Capades in her youth), body surfing and gardening (especially her beautiful azaleas). She loved to read her LA Times every day. And she made a fabulous pecan pie.
In her later years, Fran remained an athlete, continuing to rollerblade on the beach bike path most mornings into her 90th year. She also began working as a background player in commercials and found a whole new set of close friends on the set.
At the time of her passing, Fran was surrounded by family and friends, including her amazing, cherished caregiver Amy. Fran was preceded in death by her brother, Ed Pisoni, and her beloved son, Steven Spasser, and is survived by her husband of 57 years, Hal Oliver.
Her family and friends will be gathering for a celebration of her life on Saturday, February 22.
Fran, we will miss you and always remember you eating See’s candy, drinking a real Coke from a glass bottle, shocking us with a dirty joke and making us feel your caring, your honesty, your kindness, and your love.