Fran Risley

Fran Risley is a longtime volunteer at Southeast.

Wearing a crown and sash, Fran Risley celebrated her 90th birthday April 18. They say 90 is the new 85. It may be true.

A lot of words describe Fran. Disciple is one. Though her family was Jewish, she began following Jesus in college and never looked back.

She is bilingual. Raised in Guatemala until high school, she still speaks fluent Spanish.

She is mom to two sons, grandmother to nine, great-grandmother to 22 and a longtime volunteer at Southeast Christian Church.

Widow is another word that describes Fran. After her first husband died, Fran remained a widow for 32 years. She never thought she’d remarry until she met Norman Risley while volunteering at The Southeast Outlook. She became a bride at 73. Norman had been a widower twice, and the two cherished time together. (He died in 2008.)

Fran still drives, cares for herself, volunteers and tries to help others.

Loved also describes Fran. Her family and Norman’s family are so large that it’s impossible to get together without a large venue. They all get along.

Her family includes missionaries, lawyers, engineers, police officers and a helicopter pilot.

Fran doesn’t claim to know secrets to longevity. She simply takes one day at a time.

She has learned a lot in 90 years.

Here are a few “Franisms.”

> “Don’t worry. Pray. That may change the things you can’t.”

> “Encourage the next generation.”

> “Suffering is part of life. Don’t dwell on it.”

> “Always look for the good.”

> “Grow your faith.”

> “Pray about everything and leave it there.”

> “Failure happens. Get over it.”

> “Don’t let age keep you from trying new things.”

“Encourage people around you.”

“Keep up with friends and family.”