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1410 E Bowman Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88001-3001
Phone: (575) 526-2419
Fax: (575) 526-7944

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Obituary for Frances Casey Ancker

Frances “Casey” Ancker died at home in Las Cruces on August 23, 2018 at the age of 91.Casey was born in Bloomfield, Indiana, a small farming town on March 15, 1927. Her father, Lee Jones, was a businessman and farmer; her mother, Genevieve Nolhier, was from Bordeaux, France. They met in France during World War I. Casey spent her earliest years in the company of her paternal grandfather, whose nickname was Casey. His friends called her Little Casey, and the nickname stuck. In fact, Casey got prickly if anyone ever called her Frances! During World War II, while she was in high school, Casey cut and donated her long hair for manufacturing Norden bomb sights for aircraft. After she graduated from high school, she and her sister DeLee worked for a summer in a Navy munitions factory. Casey attended Lindenwood College in Saint Charles, Missouri, which was then an all-women’s school, and earned a degree in physical education.
Earlier, Casey had attended Indiana Girls State and became friends with a young woman named Betsy Ancker. Shortly after graduation from Lindenwood, Casey had her own car, and her friend Betsy asked Casey to drive her to Fort Campbell, Kentucky because Betsy wanted to visit her brother Jack who was stationed there with the Army. In the next stage of her life, Casey would leave her rural, southern Indiana roots to become an Army wife, to raise a family, and to see the world!
After only four dates, Casey and Jack were married on May 28, 1950 and spent their honeymoon on a month-long road trip visiting family and friends between Indiana and California and back. Their first home together was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Casey quickly adapted to life in the military and, starting with the American Red Cross, began a long career of volunteer service in the many places where she and Jack lived. During their military years together, from 1950 to 1975, they lived in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, California, Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, New Jersey and New Mexico. Between Ohio and Arizona, and with three school-age children, they spent three years in Heidelberg, Germany. While in Europe, the family visited numerous countries in their Volkswagen station wagon. Twice, Casey was raising their three children by herself for a year: when Jack went to Korea in 1959 and to Vietnam in 1971.
The Ancker family moved from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to Las Cruces in the summer of 1972; Jack was assigned to the Army ROTC department at New Mexico State University. Casey joined the NMSU Faculty Wives Club and other community organizations. At the local chapter of the American Red Cross, she helped organize numerous summers of the free Learn to Swim program for local children, and she helped carry out disaster relief efforts many times during winter storms and summer floods.
In 1973, she began volunteering at Branigan library and helped set up the Homebound program. For almost 40 years, every Tuesday, she and fellow volunteers delivered books and provided conversation for library users throughout Las Cruces and neighboring communities who were unable to get to the library downtown. Some of her other local activities included playing French horn and percussion in the New Horizons Band, serving on the Boards of the Las Cruces Symphony and the Symphony Guild, and assisting the League of Women Voters. Casey was committed to her volunteer service in Las Cruces. She made many friends throughout the city and didn’t quit until she was well into her 80s.
Casey Ancker is survived by her husband of 68 years, Jack of Las Cruces; daughter Mary and her husband Mike Murphy of Las Cruces; son John and his wife Beth Newstat of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; son Bill of Albuquerque; grandson Phil Sakala, his wife Michelle and their daughter Kennedy of Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and grandson John Sakala of Asheville, North Carolina.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, September 15 at 11:00 am at St James’ Episcopal Church in Mesilla Park. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be made to local organizations that serve our community.

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