• Celebrating a century of strength for 1933 Baylor graduate

    [We received this story recently, and it was just too inspiring not to share. Below is the condensed version; click here for a longer telling written by the subject’s granddaughter, Cheryl Shafer Bland, BSED ’85.]

    Frances Derden with her great-grandchildren

    On Aug. 13, 1911 — almost 100 years ago — Frances Elizabeth Schmoyer was born to a poor family right here in Waco. At an early age, Frances figured out that education would be her way to a better life, and that Baylor University was the place for her — so much so that when her high school sweetheart begged her to follow him to the University of Texas, she declined, and the relationship ended.

    To pay for her expenses, Frances took a job as principal for a one-room schoolhouse at the age of 18. She earned her degree from Baylor in 1933 and continued to teach after graduation; a few years later, she met and married a young Baylor law graduate named Albert Derden, JD ’28. The couple had two children, Zoe Ann and Albert Jr., and settled in Austin.

    In the ensuing years, the family battled a great deal of adversity: Albert’s depression was followed by a stroke that temporarily paralyzed Frances. Lung cancer claimed Albert’s life before his 65th birthday, and just a few years later, Zoe Ann died of a rare blood cancer. But thanks to her faith, Frances persevered. She still lives alone and drives herself, and as she approaches her 100th birthday, she is a proud grandmother of four (including three Baylor Bears: Cheryl Ann Shafer Bland, BSED ’85; Chris Derden, BBA ’90; and Laura Derden Hargrove, BSED ’94) and great-grandmother of nine (many of them pictured above).

    What a life — such a testimony!

    Sic ’em, Frances!

    [We learned of this story from a Bear who shared her Baylor pride. Do you know of an inspiring story, news item, or just a fun link that makes you proud of Baylor and the Baylor family? Let us know! Click here to submit your point of pride!]

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