Frances Levine, longtime Fresno State supporter, dies at 94

Frances Levine, whose gift to the state of Fresno of her husband’s award-winning extensive personal collection of books sparked his creation Philip Levine Reading Room inside the University Library, died in Fresno on 13 June. He was 94 years old.

Frances Levine’s generosity – known to friends as “Franny” – was emblematic of her life in Fresno. For more than 60 years, it has been the hospitable center of the Levine House, always offering an open door to poets and artists from Fresno and beyond.

Dr. Honora Chapman, dean of the Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities, said Levine’s concern and concern for Fresno State students continues to inspire.

“When Franny donated Phil’s library to the University, then we could create a beautiful reading room in his memory for all students to enjoy,” Chapman said. “He also gave us wonderful personal photos and prints that enliven this space with poetic art and good humor. “Their legacy will surely inspire future generations of student writers to become creative thinkers who make the world a better place, as Franny and Phil did.”

The reading room serves as a dedicated area for Fresno State’s Master of Fine Arts program for familiar readings, workshops, interviews and visits by guest authors. Postgraduate students of the English Department meet regularly there for evening seminars.

University President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said Franny Levine’s impressive legacy at Fresno State ensures that her memory will live on.

“Her contributions have raised a sense of community and stimulated our determination to forge a more friendly and multicultural environment,” said Jiménez-Sandoval. “She was creative, bright and warm. “Franny’s lively presence illuminated the discussion, the reflection and the sense of unity.”

Many knew Franny as the wife of Philip Levine, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Emeritus English teacher in Fresno. She was also, by herself, a painter and painter, a gardener, a chef and cookbook author, and a community volunteer. She enjoyed writing letters to friends, doing the New York Times daily crossword puzzle, and reading extensively the latest literary novels and detective novels by Donna Leon and Martin Walker.

Francis Joan Artley was born in 1927 in Hampton, Iowa. Her father, Wayne Clifford Artley, was a banker. Her mother, Levina Riggs, was an X-ray technician at the local hospital.

He holds a degree in drama and a Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design from the University of Iowa. While studying there, he met Phil, who was taking classes at the University of Iowa Writers’ Lab. They were married in 1954.

Philip Levine taught at Fresno State from 1958 to 1992, and the Levines remained closely associated with the University’s Creative Writing Program. He also taught at Tufts, Columbia and New York universities, and until Phil’s death in 2015 they maintained homes in both Fresno and Brooklyn.

In the early years of the family, Franny Levine worked designing costumes and sets for college theatrical productions, according to her son, Mark Levine. But it was his mother’s “bold generosity” and “huge sense of morality,” he said, that touched so many people.

Throughout her life, Franny Levine produced hundreds of paintings and sketchbooks, most of which she gave to friends as gifts. Inspired by family travel, she sketched and then painted landscapes from around the world. She painted still lifes of fruit on a table, seasonal flowers in a vase and a view from whichever window was in front of her. Dianne Hanzlicek’s girlfriend said Franny was “the happiest when she sketched” and made art.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mark Levine said his parents were ardent supporters of the civil rights movement and outspoken critics of the Vietnam War. With her friend Joan Poss, Franny Levine in 1972 volunteered to co-edit a cookbook containing recipes by the founders of the Fresno branch of the International Women’s Union for Peace and Freedom. Proceeds were donated to anti-war efforts. The organization’s cookbook remains a coveted treasure among local activists.

Franny Levine went on to write cookbooks, published locally by Bette Peterson’s Poppy Lane Books. The cookbooks introduced readers to recipes from Spain, Italy, Hungary and parts of Africa and Australia. Each of them – including her favorite, a two-part set of soups and salads – included funny, funny instructions written by Franny.

Mark Levine said his mother was an insatiable cook. Franny’s experimentation in the kitchen often included fresh vegetables from their backyard garden and ingredients from local markets and shops. In both Fresno and Brooklyn, he served as a host of many large gatherings, often attended by contemporary Phil poets and alumni.

Franny Levin’s warmth touched everyone she met, according to Fresno’s English teacher Steven Church. In an essay published in the anthology “The kiss: Intimacy by authors” The Church wrote:

“When she greets you, Franny Levin, a little woman with an incredibly bright smile and soft eyes magnified by her glasses, will reach out to you and put your face in her hands. she will hold you there, look you in the eyes, never open or close, and kiss you square on the lips or maybe on the side of your face, holding you in her arms for a second or two – and this little gesture, this sign is filled with more kindness and love than most people receive in a day or a week or a month. This is not a coldly formal European kiss. This is something bigger, deeper, the difference between a fountain and a well. He will reach out, bridging the abyss between two people, and offer this kiss, this true gift, this brief meeting of spheres, and you will feel like a balloon inflating and you will suddenly believe in the possibility of grace.

Franny Levine has a son, Mark, and a daughter, Katie Levine. son Teddy and bride Jo Levine; son John Levine? five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband and sister, Margaret Moeller.

A memorial service will be announced in the fall. Instead of flowers, the family is asking for a memorial service at the Fresno Department of English in honor of Frances Levin. Checks can be made at the Fresno State Foundation with the “Philip Levine Scholarship” on the note and mailed to 5245 N. Backer Ave., PB98, Fresno, CA 93740. For donation questions, call 559.278.1569.

(Featured by Mark Levine, side photo courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

Frances Levine, longtime Fresno State supporter, dies at 94 Source link Frances Levine, longtime Fresno State supporter, dies at 94

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