Fran Seabright

    Frances Krausz SeabrightMay, 2006:

    Frances Krausz Seabright, a long time member of the Chicago Section ACS was known for her many enthusiasms — travel, flowers, butterflies, volunteering, and especially friendliness.

    Fran was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where her father was a machinist for a copper mining company. When the mine closed down because of a strike, the family moved to the Portsmouth, Ohio area, where Fran attended school. Her father treated her to her first airplane ride, over the city of Columbus, Ohio, while she was in high school. This started her interest in travel. She then attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, majoring in math and chemistry, and earning a B.S. in Education in 1934. She had a teaching position in Portsmouth in 1934, earning a salary of $792 for her first year. She taught in several schools, including high school, until 1938. During summers, she attended Ohio State University, graduating in 1937 with an M.S. in chemistry.

    Fran's first extended trip was a two-month long driving tour of southern and western United States and part of Mexico, with her sister and two friends, during the summer of 1938.

    Fran then entered a Ph.D. program in chemistry at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, but dropped out to marry Larry Seabright in 1939. They had met at OSU where Larry was also studying for a M.S. in chemistry. As a Christmas gift, the year before they were married, Larry gave Fran a membership in the American Chemical Society, which she kept up all her life.

    The Seabrights moved to Chicago, and Fran began working for Sears, Roebuck & Co., where she tested pharmaceuticals, household equipment, and products made using substitute materials (this was 1942). Her supervisor recommended her for membership in Iota Sigma Pi, where she served as president of the Aurum Iodide (Chicago) chapter in 1966 and as national secretary in 1981.

    After moving to Elmhurst, IL in 1941, Fran taught chemistry at Elmhurst College for two years, working summers at Columbus Labs in Chicago. She also taught at St. Xavier College a year. During this time, her two children, Robert and Carol were born. From 1950-1953, Fran worked at Coleman Instruments in Maywood. She made pellets to control the pH of solutions.

    The long association with the University of Illinois in Chicago began in 1953 with Fran teaching chemistry at the Navy Pier campus. She moved to the new campus at Chicago Circle in 1964. From about 1970 on, she combined teaching chemistry and serving as a supervisor for student teachers in public and parochial school with being a student advisor of students in both chemistry and other fields in the College of Liberal Arts. She became an assistant professor a few years before her retirement in August 1980.

    Not content to be idle in retirement, she first obtained a real estate license, then began her travel agent career at Best Travel. She became a member of the American Society of Travel Agents and enjoyed many familiarization (fam) trips around the world. In the last year of her life (at the age of 92), she realized her goal of traveling on all seven continents of the world, by taking a trip to the Antarctic, a trip that would daunt many of us.

    The Seabrights were members of the Elmhurst United Methodist Church, and Fran belonged to many of the women's groups. She did the flower arrangements for the church Sunday services and for many other occasions. She was also a member of the Elmhurst Women's Club, the League of Women Voters, the local AAUW chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma (an honorary education society), and was an election judge and a volunteer at the Elmhurst Historical Museum. She also worked out and swam several times a week at "The Courts" in Elmhurst.

    Fran Seabright was an early member of the "Women in Chemistry" group that combined industrial experience, an academic career, and family and community responsibilities. Her wide range of interests and tireless energy made her a valued friend. Some of us remember her at the last ACS dinner meeting she attended (the Friday before she died) having an interesting conversation with several Northwestern University students at her table.

    Most of this biographical material was supplied by Frances Seabright's son-in-law, Robert Christensen who has written a biography of her.

    — Written by Marilyn Kouba