Frances Ann Navratil Bredthauer was born on May 2, 1930, in Brenham, Texas, to the late Annie Mae Navratil Gouldson and Frank Joseph Navratil. She passed away peacefully on August 4, 2023, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 93.
Frances grew up in Brenham where she enjoyed small town life, dear friends, and an authentic, old-fashioned sense of community. She was educated in the Brenham public schools, Blinn College, and the University of Texas at Austin. During her senior year at Brenham High School, she was elected Football Sweetheart by the 1947 football team, and was a majorette and twirler in the marching band. Frances served as Queen of Music when the Brenham Concert Band, under the direction of her father, F.J. Navratil, celebrated their Golden Jubilee in 1938. She reigned as Junior Maifest Queen in 1939 and Senior Maifest Queen in 1948. Frances received her Bachelor of Science in Education from UT in 1952 and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
Frances married her college sweetheart, Fred Bredthauer, Jr., on October 25, 1952, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Brenham. Two weeks later, the newlyweds left for Fred's army assignment at Fort Lee, Virginia. They returned to Houston in 1954, settling in the Sharpstown neighborhood where they established friendships that lasted her lifetime. In 1966, they moved into her beloved home in Bunker Hill Village, where she resided until 2020.
Frances and Fred were active members of Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, Texas, where she taught Sunday school and served as president of the Women of the Church. They joined Memorial Drive Lutheran Church in 1969, and later St. Martin's Episcopal Church. Frances was also active in the Zeta Tau Alpha Houston Alumnae Association and was awarded the certificate of merit in 1981.
Always fashionable, Frances loved to shop and was known for finding the right deals. She and Fred were astute antique collectors of early American furniture and collectibles, and were inspired by New England homes and gardens. She was an excellent bridge player, hosting friends at their home for duplicate and dinner bridge parties. Frances did beautiful cross-stitch and needlepoint work and created pillows, Christmas stockings and ornaments that are treasured keepsakes. But above all else, she loved her family. A devoted wife and loving mother and grandmother, she was involved in her children's and grandchildren's numerous school and sports activities. It was rare for her to miss any game, performance, or event in which they participated. She recently returned to Brenham to ride the former royalty float in the Maifest parade, celebrating her 75th anniversary and honoring her as the "Oldest Living Maifest Queen."
Frances is preceded in death by her parents and her husband. She is survived by her son Paul Bredthauer and wife Jenni; her daughter Amy Bredthauer Gissel and husband Lewis; her grandchildren Ben Bredthauer and wife Jordan, Max Bredthauer and wife Rebekah, Will Bredthauer, Henry Gissel and her namesake Frances Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gissel; great-grandchildren Grayson, Logan, Aubrey and Charlie Bredthauer; brother-in-law Gene Bredthauer and wife Bettie, sister-in-law Ruth Bredthauer Warfield, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank her caregivers, Tish Crews, Brandi Hensley and Pally Hensley, for their care, love and support during the past year.
A private graveside service will be held at 11 am at Prairie Lea Cemetery, with family friend Deacon Judy Frizzell of Church of the Incarnation presiding, and her grandsons serving as pallbearers.
If desiring, memorial gifts may be made to: Brenham Heritage Museum (310 East Main St., Brenham, TX 77833; brenhamheritagemuseum.org), St. Martin's Episcopal Church (717 Sage Rd., Houston, TX 77056; stmartinsepiscopal.org) or the charity of your choice.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Memorial Oaks Chapel, 1306 West Main, Brenham, TX 77833. To post a tribute to the family, visit www.memorialoakschapel.com.