Frankie has resided in northern Illinois since 1963, when she moved to Roseland on Chicago’s historic south side. She moved to Plano in 1966 and has lived in Sandwich since 1997.
Frankie was the third of six daughters born to Lovie Williams of East Prairie, Missouri, and was adopted at birth by a local couple, Elva and Frank Waters. Elva and Frank Waters divorced when Frankie was 4. Elva later married Louis Whitlock, the only true and loving father Frankie ever knew.
As a little girl, she traveled back and forth across the migrant routes from the Mississippi River and Missouri cotton fields westward to California helping her parents pick seasonal crops. She often spoke of traveling to the beautiful desert city of Ajo, Arizona, and was grateful to be able to return there for a visit in 2003. This set her up for travel in her later years: eager to go, but more eager to return home to her own bed.
Raised in Mississippi County, Missouri, Frankie preferred driving the tractor and her dad’s pick-up truck over going to school. She left school in ninth grade and was briefly married to a local boy, Melvin P Lackey, who served in the Army during the Korean War.
In her late teens, Frankie left Mississippi County with a girlfriend and found a job at Brown Shoe Factory in St. Louis. There she became fluent in American Sign Language and met her second husband, Bascom C Robinson, from North Carolina. They had three children together: Enola (Cyndi) G. (Robinson) Gavin, Jerry L. Robinson, and Cynthia M. (Robinson) Broadus.
Her final marriage was to her elementary school sweetheart, R. J Aters, with whom she was married for 47 years until his death in 2010. With him, she had her fourth child, Steven A. Aters. She also mothered and raised Robert E. Aters, her stepson, from the time he was six years old. They resided in the Plano-Sandwich area for 45 years, raising a blended family of four children.
Frankie’s hands were always busy: cooking, canning, crocheting, and cleaning–talking all the while. She was an extrovert and loved being the center of adoring attention. She was known for her devoted attraction to purses, garage sales and Goodwill. She loved tchotchkesand bling and Elvis Presley
. She made innumerable trips to Graceland.
The last years of Frankie’s life were spent as a resident at Willow Crest Nursing Pavilion as her memory swirled together ages, dates, time, family, friends, and most everything that she experienced or knew. Her cursive handwriting turned to an abbreviated and unintelligible scrawl, but she could still use ASL to spell out words and names and “I love you.” Every day as long as Frankie could move on her own, she packed two big purses full of belongings (not necessarily hers) and grabbed her coat to head home to fix R.J.’s dinner. She kept everyone laughing and was deeply loved by resident and staff alike; she was their “rock star.”
Frankie is survived by her beloved children: Cyndi Gavin (Timothy Burke) of Naperville, Jerry “J.R.” Robinson (Diane) of Plano, Cynthia (Don) Broadus of Somonauk, Steven Aters (Scott City, MO), Robert Aters (Dyer, TN); her grandchildren and step-grandchildren: Eric Gavin (Dr. Gabriella Paloucci) of Naperville, Michael Gavin (Bianca Zimmer) of New Paltz, NY, Amanda Slavens (Tom) of Somonauk, Jerrod Robinson of Sandwich, Jenin Paradise (Ryan) of Yorkville, Zachary Aters of Elgin, Jason Aters (Plano), Kyle Aters (Fesseden, ND), Rob Aters (Misty) of Yorkville, Randy Aters of Plano; and 8 great-grandchildren.