Frances Willis enjoys Amish community in Ohio
Frances Keener Willis learned to cook while taking home economics in high school.

“We would get to cook a meal at school, and then we would get to invite the teachers in to eat it,” she said. “That’s basically how I got started cooking. Everybody loves my chicken dressing. My daddy taught me how to cook that. He was the chicken dressing maker at home. When we would have church dinners, that’s what he would take.”

Frances enjoys cooking for her husband, Gerald, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When she was in her teens, she and her family were headed to her aunt’s house. They met Gerald and his family going in the opposite direction. She waved at him. He didn’t wave back. She had seen him several times. She told her sister that he was so cute she was going to call him.

They went to church on their first date.

“Back then, we always went to church on our dates, because we didn’t have anywhere else to go,” said Frances.

Come Aug. 24, they will be married 54 years. In the early years of their marriage, she was a seamstress at Centre Manufacturing Company. Later, after they started their family, she would take her children to Gerald’s lumber where she would help with the accounting.

Frances said their marriage has been exciting.

“We’ve traveled a lot,” she said. “Then Gerald got into politics and we were in that for a long time. Then, he decided to get out of politics, and we started doing other things.”

One thing they look forward is their annual trips to the Amish country in Kidron, Ohio.

“We love being up there with the Amish people,” she said. “We’ve made friends with a lot of them, and we go back every year to see them. They have the best cheese up there, and we bring some back to our family and friends.”

Frances collects glassware, and she is especially fond of milk glass. She has found a lot of it at yard sales.

Their children are Keith Willis, Kim Pruitt and LaBreeska Ponder.

“After we married, we continued to go to church,” said Frances. “Both of us were brought up in church, and we brought our children up in church. They’re still in church today.”

Frances was born in Key, a small community in Cherokee County. She graduated from Spring Garden High School. She and Gerald now live in the Nances Creek community. They are members of Nances Creek Congregational Holiness Church.

Frances cooks for her family every Sunday, just as she has all these years.

“I still look forward to it,” she said. “They all come and I get to see all of them at one time. After we eat, we clean up the table and then sit down and talk. We always have a lot to talk about.”

She likes to prepare her daddy’s Chicken Dressing for her family along with Easy Apple Dumplings and Coconut Pie.


Chicken Dressing

1 pan cornbread
1 loaf of bread
4 cans cream of chicken soup
4 cans celery soup
2 cans onion soup
4 cans chicken broth
Bowl of onions, chopped
1 stick butter
Almost 1 bottle sage

Saute onions in butter until done, but not browned. Add chicken. Pour in chicken broth. Mix all ingredients together. Cook at 350 degrees until done.

Easy Apple Dumplings

1 can (10 count) flaky biscuits
1 Granny Smith apple
Ground cinnamon
1 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Divide biscuits in half to make 20 pounds. Quarter apple, then cut quarters into 5 bite size pieces (to make 20 pieces of apples). Put a piece of apple in each round and arrange dumplings in a baking dish. Bring water, butter and sugar to a boil and pour over dumplings. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Coconut Pie

2 egg yolks
1 ½ c. sugar
2 c. milk
2 T. flour
½ stick butter
1 t. vanilla

Cook at 350 degrees until done. Makes two pies.
© 2013