By Al Balaban

When her mother, 101 years old, passed away last September, Fran Nikolich decided it was time to move from the home she and her late husband, Paul, had bought in Palmer Ranch 21 years ago. They had grown up and spent most of their adult lives in Detroit, MI, Paul as a commercial printer, Fran, as cosmetologist.

When they agreed, after both retiring, to buy a place in Florida, Fran called mother to inform her of their plans. Her mother’s reply: “Buy another one for me.” Although she had been invited to live with them, “she wanted her own thermostat” and continued an independent life until her final days.

Although growing up with a powerful, intimidating, old-fashioned Italian father who tried to pressure her into an arranged marriage in Italy with a son of his friend, Fran found her own voice, refused, and eventually gained her father’s respect.

Although they had met when she was a teenager, Paul, a cousin’s friend, reconnected with Fran after his service in the U.S. Navy. They had a close, loving relationship which produced Georgeann (living in Tampa), Michael (now in Panama) and six grandchildren.

An early fascination with hair-styling led Fran, after graduating from high school at 16, to cosmetology school, licensing, and eventually ownership of two successful hair salons. Thirty years later, she and her husband retired to Florida in 1994. After 45 years of happy marriage, Paul passed away. Wanting to be active and involved, Fran worked as a hostess at the elegant Michael’s on East for the last ten years.

Fran has been a painter in various media for some time, as evidenced by the beautiful work that hangs on the walls of her bright, sunny apartment. This is a passion she wants to pursue and is already taking the necessary steps. She will be a welcome addition to our talented artists.