- [S106] The Mountain Press, 5 Mar 2012.
Upland Chronicles: Frances Ostergren still in love with painting
by CARROLL McMAHAN
Frances Wade Ostergren pictured in her U.S. Navy WAVE uniform during World War ll.
A watercolor painting by Frances Ostergren of her home place, 300 Prince St. in Sevierville.
The Sevier County Courthouse tower is shown in one of several paintings of by Frances Ostergren.
Frances Wade Ostergren, now 100 years old, always enjoyed sketching and painting pictures.
While teaching at a rural Sevier County school in the 1930s, she sketched several of her students. Frances continued to paint with oils and other media while moving around the country.
Returning to Sevierville due to the declining health of her parents and the untimely death of her husband, she decided to actively pursue her love of visual art.
After receiving a few lessons in watercolors from noted artist Jim Gray, Frances began traveling throughout Sevier County sketching churches and schools along with the courthouse and its tower, swinging bridges, landscapes and houses. Today, her watercolor paintings hang in private homes and public businesses throughout Sevier County and beyond.
Using a map, Frances would go out on the backroads and find old picturesque structures and landscapes she wanted to paint, concentrating on historic buildings that were slowly disappearing.
Traveling alone, she would find a suitable subject and spend several hours making a detailed pencil sketch that she would later use for watercolor paintings.
Born Dec. 12, 1911, she is a daughter of Jerry Reed Wade and Hattie Murphy Wade. Her family moved from the rural community of Catlettsburg to Sevierville when she was a young girl.
Frances has vivid memories of riding on the back of a wagon that was delivering ice for her father, who was the proprietor of Sevierville Mills and Ice Co. Her father served as mayor of Sevierville from 1945 to 1946.
She graduated from Sevier County High School and Tusculum College in Greeneville. Frances then began a teaching career in Sevier County.
Due to a school board regulation that prohibited two members of the same family from teaching at the same time and her older sister, Blanche McCall, already an established teacher in Sevier County, Frances relocated to Loudon County, where she taught before moving to Mississippi and teaching there for a couple of years.
After leaving Mississippi, Frances enrolled in Duke University to pursue a master’s degree, but was forced to leave due to her financial situation. She spent the following year in Alabama before relocating to Chicago, where she received her laboratory technician training at Michael Reece Hospital.
She then worked as a laboratory technician in Jacksonville, Fla. While there, due to World War ll, Frances joined the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
She called North Carolina, Arizona and California home before moving to Fitchburg, Mass., and worked there for several years. Frances moved from Fitchburg to New York City, where she worked in the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center. While living in New York City, she met her future husband, Raynor Ostergren.
When Raynor retired from the military in 1956, the couple moved to Escondido, Calif. Frances and Raynor traveled to Sevierville in 1959 to visit her mother, who was in poor health. During the extended visit, Raynor became ill and was unable to travel back to California. He died on March 12, 1960, and Frances remained in Sevierville to help care for her parents.
As family circumstances permitted, Frances became active in her community. She served on the Board of Directors of the Sevier County Fair and facilitated the floral exhibits. Frances participated in several bridge clubs, was a charter member of the Sevierville Garden Club and an active member of the American Legion Post 104 Auxiliary.
She traveled extensively and maintained her mother’s beautiful rose garden. Frances is the last surviving member of her immediate family, which included her parents; a brother, Harry Wade; and three sisters, Mrs. Rhea (Blanche) McCall, Mrs. Ray (Anna Ruth) Holbert and Lillian Wade. She has one nephew, Stephen Holbert.
“I lived there until I could no longer climb on the roof to clean the gutters,” she said when talking about the family residence on Prince Street. Frances is currently a resident of MountainBrook Village in Sevierville, where she maintained a memorial garden for several years, managed the library and kept a vegetable garden.
After celebrating her 100th birthday, Frances donated most of her art work to the King Family Library History Center.
In recognition of her generous gift, The King Family Library will host “Frances Wade Ostergren: a Retrospective” on Thursday, March 15. The public show and artist reception will feature 45 out of the collection, which includes over 150 paintings along with numerous sketch books.
Many of the watercolors are of old churches and schools, some of which are no longer standing.
Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments, please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to email@example.com.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 22 Mar 2012.
Library art show highlights works by Frances Ostergren
SEVIERVILLE — The King Family Library recently hosted “Frances Wade Ostergren: a Retrospective” in the library’s grand reading room.
Ostergren, now 100 years old and a resident of MountainBrook Village, greeted the guests, many of whom were acquainted with the artist and some who owned pieces of her work.
Ostergren recently donated 150 of her original watercolors, along with her sketch books and a journal she used to record her art sales and expenses. Forty-six pieces were chosen for the display.
“I am humbled that so many people showed up tonight and have told me how much they respect my work,” said the artist. “It has been a pleasure to live in such a wonderful community.”
Tim Fisher, assistant genealogist at the King Family Library History Center, cataloged the collection and planned the event. The Spencer Clack Chapter of the DAR and the Sevierville Garden Club provided refreshments.
“I’m tickled to death to be able to preserve a part of Sevier County’s history through Mrs. Ostergren’s artwork. I’m happy to have played a small part in it,” Fisher said.
Former Sevierville City Administrator Hulet Chaney and his wife, Joyce, brought along a painting of the historic home in which they once resided. Many of those gathered told stories related to the art on display.
On behalf of the Spencer Clack Chapter of DAR, chapter president Viola Riorden presented Ostergren with an Award for Historic Preservation.
After about 20 years of moving around the country, Ostergren returned to Sevierville where she had been raised. Her husband, Raynor Ostergren, died in 1960 and she returned to Sevierville to care for parents, former Sevierville Mayor Jerry Reed Wade and Hettie Murphy Wade.
She received a few lessons from artist Jim Gray before she began traveling throughout Sevier County sketching country churches, old schools and landscapes. She also sketched swinging bridges, historic houses and noted public buildings.
She painted in her home on Prince Street. Her paintings of the Sevier County Courthouse, the courthouse tower and the old Sevier County High School proved to be among her most popular pieces.
Many of the structures in her paintings are no longer standing or have been drastically changed in appearance since they were sketched in the 1970s and 1980s.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 3 Feb 2013.
Artist Ostergren guest speaker for Friends of King Family Library
Roger Simpson/Special to The Press
Frances Ostergren was the featured speaker during the recent Friends of the King Family Library meeting.
Local artist Frances Ostergren, was honored recently by Friends of King Family Library during its annual membership meeting.
Ostergren was featured as a Meet the Artist guest. She spoke of her life as an artist and as a woman who has lived 101 years. The walls of the Burchfield Room were lined with 12 of her original oil paintings.
Ostregren discussed her first painting, one of flowers, and then told her life story through her thoughts and memories of each work. Following her talk, she took questions. Her message is for people to do things, to get involved with life at each of its stages. She said that she now keeps her mind alert by reading books.
Five people won signed bookmarks with prints of three of her works.
At the end of the evening, Bonnie Voit, past president of Friends of the King Family Library, presented Ostergren with a gift of large-print books.
Ostergren previously donated a selection of her work to the library. Friends of the King Family Library reprinted a selection from these works on notecards and bookmarks to raise money to help the library. These note cards and bookmarks are available for purchase at the Circulation Desk.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 6 Oct 2013.
Upland Chronicles: Artist discovers old school in Sevier County
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 6 Dec 2014.
WWII veteran honored by Phil Roe
Francis Ostergren, left, was honored by Rep. Phil Roe Friday afternoon at the Mountain Brook Village assisted living facility. Ostergren was a nurse during World War II and is believed to be among the oldest surviving female WWII-era veterans.
Francis Ostergren, believed to be among the oldest surviving female veterans of the World War II era in the state, was honored by Rep. Phil Roe at the Mountain Brook Village assisted living facility Friday afternoon for her service.
Ostergren, who will turn 103 on Dec. 12, was a nurse during WWII and a member of The American Legion Post 104 for more than 60 years.
"I just want to say thank you so much for everything you've done for your country," Roe said.
Roe presented Ostergren with a certificate from Washington, D.C., along with a small American flag and an ornament. He took a few minutes to talk to her and learn about her history before presenting the items to her.
Ostergren was born and raised in Sevierville, and lived most of her life in Sevier County. She attended Tusculum College and afterward returned home to take care of her ill parents. She would later become a teacher and an artist.
"I believe everybody should do something that they want to do (professionally) and do what makes them happy," Ostergren said.
Ostergren said it would be difficult to name the one event that she has witnessed in the century she has been alive, but she did reflect on how it feels to be quickly approaching 103 years old.
"The first 100 years are easy, but after that it gets to be too much," she said.
Becky Harsson, executive director at Mountain Brook Village, said that Ostergren had only been staying in the assisted living facility for about two or three years.
"So, if you think about it, she was living on her own at 100 years old," Harsson said. "That's incredible. She's incredible."
Roe marveled at the advances in technology and medicine that Ostergren has witnessed in her life.
"Blood pressure medications, anti-biotics, insulin — all of these things we take for granted, but imagine being around in 1911 (when Ostergren was born)," Roe said. "The average life expectancy when she was born was 49. She more than doubled it. That's just amazing."
Ostergren said she enjoyed traveling when she was younger, and managed to see different parts of the country even in a time when commercial airlines and interstate roads were not available nationwide. When Roe learned this, he was impressed.
"You make the drive from, say, Clarksville to Sevierville today, you can do that in maybe three-and-a-half hours," Roe said. "Back then, you're looking at a day-long trip. I can't imagine somebody getting around like she did back then. She is really something."
Roe also had researched a little into Ostergren's background and took an interest in her artwork, which was on display at the facility.
"Someone like her, I'm proud to say that I'm her representative, I'm her congressman," he said.
- [S112] Census, 1930.
Name: Fannie C Wade
Event Date: 1930
Event Place: Sevierville, Sevier, Tennessee
Marital Status: Single
Estimated Birth Year: 1913
Relationship to Head of Household: Daughter
Father's Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother's Birthplace: Tennessee
Enumeration District Number: 0005
Family Number: 129
Sheet Number and Letter: 6B
Line Number: 51
NARA Publication: T626, roll 2271
Film Number: 2342005
Digital Folder Number: 4547919
Image Number: 00667
Household Gender Age
Parent Jerry R Wade M 52
Parent Hattie M Wade F 46
Harry C Wade M 27
Blanche M Wade F 22
Fannie C Wade F 17
Anna R Wade F 12
- [S34] In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (1993), 98.