Neighborhood Spotlight: The Hawthornes

Meet the Hawthorne’s! Next time you see Peter and Frances Hawthorne out and about in the neighborhood, be sure to introduce yourself. Peter and Frances moved to Des Moines in 1951 and bought their current home in 1956 from Norma Jean Uhl. The neighborhood has changed much from the time they moved in, they say, resembling the United Nations with the many diverse populations now on their block. Being involved in the community is still a high priority today; the picture here was taken after the Mid City Toastmaster’s meeting on Monday April 11th at the Forest Avenue library.

Peter is active with the Kiwanis Club, while Frances serves on the board for the Evelyn Davis Early Learning Academy, is active with the Links, and Aging Resources. Both are active with the local branch of AARP, and are both founding member of the Mid City Toastmaster’s group, an affiliate of the international leadership and public speaking organization, Toastmaster’s International. Peter is also a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and Frances is proud to be a Zeta Phi Beta.

The Early Years:

Peter and Frances met while attending Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri. Frances grew up on a farm in Missouri, and Peter came to Missouri from Houston, Texas to attend college on the G.I. Bill. Both Frances and Peter are from large families, but were the only one of their siblings to go to college. Having met while working on the college newspaper, their love story started when Peter asked to walk Frances home after a late night at the paper.

Peter and Frances married, and moved to Des Moines in August of 1951. Both worked for the Bystander, Peter was in advertising, and Frances worked her way up to be Editor and Chief. He later moved on to work for the Post Office, spending 38 years there before retiring from his role as Supervisor. After many years at the Bystander, Frances returned to school and received her Master’s Degree in Education from Drake university at the age of 40, and went on to become a principal at Wallace Elementary School on Des Moines’ east side and later the Principal at Edmonds Academy of Fine Arts.

Frances also found time to write and has published two books. Writing however is a passion for both; Peter is an accomplished poet and also tends his locally famous rose garden featured by both John McLaughlin and Cynthia Fodor of KCCI. Between books and flowers, the couple also found time to raise four children, three of whom went on to college to study journalism like their parents; the fourth works in Information Technology for the National Department of Homeland Security.

Frances and Peter have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, so next time you see them out and about, make sure to stop and introduce yourself! You can also find them together most Monday evenings at the Forest Ave Library at the Mid City Toastmasters meeting from 5:30 to 6:30. Stop in for a visit!