Francine Gerard Submitted photo

Francine Pines Gerard of Chandler died June 8 at Hospice of The Valley in Chandler after a short illness. She grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. N.Y., and graduated from Erasmus High School and Hofstra College while also studying French at Middlebury College. She did graduate work in elementary education at City University of New York.

She met her future husband, Bert, reluctantly after both their mothers, working together in a World War II uniform factory, thought it would be a good idea. They eloped in 1946, beginning a marriage that lasted 57 years until Bert’s death in 2003. Over the years she lived in Port Washington, Freeport and White Plains, N.Y.; Elkins Park, Pa.; San Diego and Hollywood, Calif.; and Ahwatukee Foothills and Chandler, Ariz.

Gerard raised four sons, taught second grade inner city children in New York, was director of Hillel at San Diego State University and upon retirement worked at Saks Fifth Avenue in Phoenix, touching the lives of everyone she met. Her passions were for musical theater, adult Jewish education, singing in the synagogue choir and worship. She cherished the idea of keeping alive the rituals of her own grandmother, Lena Herman, both in synagogue participation and at the Sabbath table. She regularly led Friday night services at the Park Regency in Chandler where she lived for a decade, until her passing.

She was a chef and a baker who made the best noodle kugel, the best pot roast, the really best apple pie and cheesecake, and the best challah in the world. Her recipes are used by her children and grandchildren and generations of friends. Later in life she began writing and editing – working for several years for the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

Survivors include four sons, Jonathan (and Pearl Rosenberg), Ed (and Sue), Jeremy (and Leslie Bennetts) and Michael; a brother, Barry Pines; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be at interment in the Herman family plot in Brooklyn on June 13.

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