Frances Eleanor Paul DeGermain

Frances DeGermain

Frances DeGermain

Frances Eleanor Paul DeGermain was born to William Lewis and Frances Lackey Paul on April 14, 1924 in Ketchikan Alaska. She passed away at the age of 92 in Seattle with her extended family at her side on August 8, 2016. She is survived by a son, granddaughter, five nephews, two nieces and multiple grand-nieces and nephews.

A celebration of her life will be held on September 24, 2016 in the form of a Tlingit 40 day party, beginning at 1:00, in La Conner, Washington at the home of her nephew, Steve Paul and his family. Please contact Steve directly for details of the gathering: 206 683 2961 or

Frances was of Tlingit Indian heritage; her Tlingit name was Shah-naX-ee, (“mountain valley”).  At the great 1940 Koo-eeX in Wrangell, AK, she was elevated into the Nahn-ya-ahyi, Wolf/Eagle Clan, and received her Killer Whale button blanket made for her by her mother. frances-with-button-blanket

After graduating from Juneau/Douglas high school Frances attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Those were the WWII years and she was only able to return one time to the comfort of home and hearth.  Upon her return to Alaska Frances began singing in recitals and various stage plays and later in life enjoyed a long career as a soloist at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.

In 1951 Frances married Charles DeGermain.  Their son Charles Paul DeGermain was born in 1953.  In 1957 she moved with her parents and son to Seattle where she worked in contract administration for the Boeing Company until her retirement after 30 years.

frances-with-button-blanketPerhaps her greatest joy in her life apart from her family was her music.  In 1969, in her late 40’s, she took up the recorder and joined the Seattle Recorder Society. There, she played but also led, both administratively and musically, hosting many musical gatherings in her Capitol Hill home.

On retirement from Boeing, Frances began what she considered her life’s principal work. That is, the editing, organizing, and publishing of the Paul family history, a daunting task which required a tenacious and bulldog temperament. She had that and more.

The first published work was of her brother Fred Paul’s manuscript “Then Fight For It”, an insider’s history of the Alaska Native Land Claims Act of 1971, regarded by many as the largest peaceful redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind. Fred’s unedited manuscript read like a lawyer’s brief which, of course, it was and required extensive editing. She worked with her brother while he still lived and it was finally published 9 years after his death in 2003 by Traffords.

Next came her Father’s work. Frances lived with William until his death in 1977. Anyone familiar with Alaska history of the last 100 years will know at least some of the accomplishments of William Paul Sr. the “Indian attorney.” He is called the father of the Alaska Native Land Claims Act, but his field of work was not only Native Land Claims, but also cultural.  It came to Frances to organize the notes and files of a man who traveled Alaska from his birth in 1885 until his death in 1977 collecting the history of his people, the Alaska Tlingit. Frances’ next publication was “The Alaska Tlingit, Where Did We Come From?”.  This was published in 2011 also by Traffords.

Finally and lastly came really her own work that she called “Wrangell, Tillie’s Town” which is a history of her grandmother, Matilda “Tillie” Paul Tamaree, also known as Kahtahah. But it was a time of her life when energy was failing and she knew she would not finish the work. The manuscript remains unpublished awaiting yet another Paul to complete.

Frances is survived by her son, Charles of Albany OR, and her granddaughter, Adrienne DeGermain of Bend, OR.  In addition, she leaves behind a large extended family, all of whom give her honor.  There will never be any quite her equal.

Memorials may be made to:

Seattle Recorder Society

4554 4th Ave. N.E.

Seattle, WA  98105


William L. Paul, Sr. Archives

Sealaska Heritage Institute

105 S. Seward St. #201

Juneau, AK 99801

3 Responses to “Frances Eleanor Paul DeGermain”

  • Joaqlin Estus says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have so many fond memories of Frances Eleanor, my mother’s cousin. We stayed with Uncle Will, Frances, Frances Eleanor, and Charles in Seattle several times on our way to or from Alaska. We also visited later when she was on her own, and when she lived with Fred.

    A lot of my memories mingle with their large Victorian house, going into the (scary at the time) cellar with Charles, studying the embroidered map of Alaska with symbols for the various cultures (totem poles for Southeast).

    I remember our eyes meeting as one of my aunts started to tell the exact same story she’d told minutes earlier, and we knew something was seriously wrong – it turned out to be Alzheimer’s.

    And there were times of simple companionship, helping her wash and put away her mother’s china platters and bowls after a big meal, pinning the hem of a skirt as she stood (keeping her restlessness in check) on a chair. Frances was sharp and quick, with a flair for telling entertaining stories – about the family, her life, her recorder group and the choir she belonged to.

    I think I saw her only two or three times after she moved to Federal Way. Still, I enjoyed long emails she sent describing her trips to Oregon to visit Charles. What sagas! With details about an interesting conversation she had with someone she met on the plane, the hat she wore to a wedding, or idiot drivers.

    When Mom was in her 80s and we were in the area, she wanted to have lunch with Frances, but hurt her knee so they just talked on the phone. She was the last of her generation in my mother’s family. I’ll miss her.

  • Shirley Hickman says:

    I am a former Boeing employee who began working with her in 1961 at Plant 2. She became one of my fondest co-workers, exhibiting tenacity for doing her job well and was fun to interact with – one of the few I’ll always remember fondly for her spirit and excellence in doing her job well! She certainly had a long and interesting life, which we who worked with her will always cherish.

    Losing a loved one is never easy, but be thankful we all enjoyed and benefited by her spirit while she was here.

  • Marty McLaren (Kehl) says:

    Frances was very dear to me, and I am deeply saddened that I missed the chance to reconnect with her after we both moved away from our adjacent homes on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

    We lived next door to each other on 16th Avenue East from 1971 through 1994. William Paul was still living at the time, and it was a privilege to get to know both Frances and her father, also Charles, and later, Fred. Over time, I learned the story of the family and the extraordinary accomplishments of William, and Fred. Frances, of course, accomplished a great deal as well. Why should I be surprised to know that she finished the two biographies and was working on a third?

    We enjoyed chatting in our back yards; I often took care of her cats, Max and Millie, when she was away, and I was with her immediately after her father died. Frances was indomitable, but only over time did I come to appreciate the power of her personality, her extraordinary energy, and her creative talents.

    I feel extremely fortunate to have been near to Frances for those years, and send my warmest regards to Charles and the extended family.

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