Frances “Frannie” Lightburn Cressman
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Frances “Frannie” Lightburn Cressman, 87, of Main Street in Jane Lew, died unexpectedly following a brief illness on September 16, 2021. She was the daughter of Joseph “Joe” B. Lightburn and Susan Davisson Lightburn of Jane Lew. Joe Lightburn was twice Mayor of Jane Lew, a long time merchant there, and a conservative politician who, among other offices, ran for President of the United States in 1964 on the Constitution Party (third party) ticket. Frances Lightburn Cressman was also a Great Granddaughter of Union Brig. Gen./Rev. Joseph A. J. Lightburn of Lewis County.Frances was born in Jane Lew on November 10, 1933. She was converted to the Christian faith as a teenager at the Methodist Protestant Church on Main Street in Jane Lew. She joined said church as a teenager and remained a member when that church became the First United Methodist Church of Jane Lew. Upon maturity she left our state to seek employment elsewhere, but later returned home to Jane Lew. She resumed her membership in said church where she served 20 years as organist (circa 1984 to 2004) and 25 years as a member of the choir. She later attended Grace Baptist Temple, Park Avenue, Jane Lew, where she served occasionally as pianist. Later she attended Broad Run Baptist Church of Jane Lew. She retained her strong Christian faith until the end of her life.Frances graduated from Jane Lew High School in 1951, attended Davis and Elkins College, and graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1963. She was a member of the Phi Mu National Social Sorority. She studied classical music extensively throughout her life and with professional teachers.From 1963 until 1982, Frances lived in New York City, Los Angeles, CA, and Philadelphia, PA, where she was employed at large law firms as a legal secretary and as a paralegal. She was at one time employed as secretary to the famous Philadelphia lawyer, Howard Kellogg. From 1974 to 1982 she was employed as Office Manager of the prestigious Fredrick C. Fiechter Law Firm in Philadelphia. Upon retirement from that occupation in 1982, she moved back to her residence in Jane Lew. There she opened a business, the Cressman School of Music, where she taught piano and voice for over 20 years (circa 1985 to 2007) and produced well-attended recitals in which her students exhibited their musical skills. Frances also invested in real estate and enjoyed remodeling and furnishing her properties by shopping Facebook and taking “Facebook Adventures” with her family.Because only incomplete or inaccurate biographies of her Great Grandfather, Union Brig. Gen./Rev. Joseph A. J. Lightburn, were written heretofore, around 1995 Frances began extensive research on the general whose military campaigns during the Civil War, both in West Virginia and elsewhere, were so significant to the formation of West Virginia and to the history of our nation. Since knowledge of the Civil War was necessary in order to compile an accurate account of the general, around this time she also began a thorough study of the Civil War, which study escalated through the following years.In 2004 Frances wrote a manuscript entitled, “Here By a Quarter Of an Inch”, and up-close biography of General Lightburn. Said manuscript was published in the Weston Democrat newspaper in 2004. In 2012, in observance of the celebration of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial, Frances updated said manuscript on General Lightburn (to include additional facts) and also wrote, published, and sold or distrusted the following books (regarding his military campaigns in West Virginia) to various individuals, colleges, and libraries: (1) The Jones-Imboden Raid through Western Virginia from April 24 to May 22, 1863, (2) Kanawha Valley Campaign of 1862 or “West Virginia History Lost and Found”, including the History of the Union WVW 4th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and the Letters of Union Private William Van Brown of the Union WV 4th describing the Kanawha Valley Campaign of 1862.In observance of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial celebration, Frances, using the research she compiled over the years, wrote, published, and sold or distributed in 2014 her long two-volume book covering the American Civil War entitled, “A Great Civil War Has Come Upon Us-The Lives and Times of Union Brig. Gen./Rev. Joseph A.J. Lightburn and his friend, Conf. Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson”. While covering the war in detail, this book features the lives of these two Civil War generals, describes their special historical connection to Lewis and Harrison Counties, their attendance at Broad Run Baptist Church as young boys, their close friendship, their service in the was, Stonewall Jackson’s tragic death, and Rev. Joseph A.J. Lightburn’s Baptist ministry after the war. The book is available to the public through Amazon.com and at Lightburn’s Family Diner in Jane Lew, WV.Frances appeared in the documentary film, Still Standing, The Stonewall Jackson Story, and spoke about the close friendship of Lightburn and Jackson. The premiere of this film, produced and directed by Ken Carpenter of Franklin Springs Family Media, was shown at nearby Jackson’s Mill on November 11, 2007. On February 14, 2012, Frances, upon invitation, gave a speech before the Stonewall Jackson Civil War Round Table, in Bridgeport, on the Jones-Imboden Raid through West Virginia.Frances’ only sister, Mary Lightburn Stern (originally from Jane Lew), of Henderson, NV, expired in 2012. Her only brother, Joseph “Joey” B. Lightburn, Jr., who expired in 2015, was a well-known and respected merchant who owned and operated Lightburns Hardware on Main Street in Jane Lew for many years. In later years, Frances was an investor in Lightburn’s Family Diner in Jane Lew and a volunteer shopper for the restaurant. On February 27, 2018, the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce sponsored a luncheon at Lightburn’s Family Diner at which Frances was the special guest speaker. She spoke about her books and the Civil War. Frances was also preceded in death by one grandchild, Johannah Grace Fay. Frances is survived by treasured friends and beloved relatives. Her relatives include her only daughter, Dianne Cressman Fay Castro and husband, Danny, of Jane Lew; six grandchildren: John Joseph Fay and wife, Joy, of Philadelphia, Jason Michael Fay and wife, Hali, of Jane Lew, Jacquelyn Dianne Fay of Beckley, and James Thornton Fay, Jr., Joel Aaron Fay, and Julia Grace Fay all of Jane Lew; three great-grandchildren: Deanna Marie Fay of Philadelphia, and Laila Marie Fay and Kelsee Delynne Fay both of Jane Lew; first cousin, Mary Virginia Rinehart of Weston; the latter’s many decendants; and several other cousins, nieces, and nephews.In lieu of flowers, Frances requested that sympathy cards are greatly appreciated or donations may be made to your local Salvation Army.Family and friends will gather for Visitation at Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service located at 144 Hackers Creek Rd. in Jane Lew from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, 2021. Funeral Services will begin at 2 p.m. in the Pat Boyle Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Allen Burnsworth officiating. Interment will follow at Broad Run Baptist Church Cemetery in Jane Lew.We, at Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service, are honored and privileged to serve the family of Frances “Frannie” Lightburn Cressman. Online condolences may be expressed at www.PatBoyleFuneralHome.com.
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