The literary world lost a bright and shining star with the passing of Dorothea Benton Frank. I feel as though I lost a friend, even though I'd only met Dorothea twice at book signings--hers, not mine. The first time, she was scheduled to sign on a Friday evening in Memphis. I got myself there two hours early. And when no one showed, I wondered what had happened. Did I get the date wrong? In my eagerness to make sure I got a great seat, I walked right past the sign that said the event had to be rescheduled because Ms. Frank's flight was delayed. It also said she would be there the next morning at ten a.m. and would bring donuts. I was there at nine. True to her word, she brought the donuts, even having insisted her driver stop along the way so she could personally buy them and deliver them to those of us who came back to see her.
At the second event a few years ago, I met friends at the bookstore, all of us eager to hear Dorothea speak. She came to the event accompanied by her daughter, Victoria, who is equally lovely. The banter between mother and daughter was a delight to behold. Dottie Frank was engaging, self-deprecating, and captivating as she talked about her writing and her beloved Low Country.
This Pennsylvania girl fell in love with the Low Country--its mystique, its beauty, and its people--through books like Sullivan's Island, Bull Island, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Shem Creek, among others. The beauty of her writing is that she took me to these places, introduced me to characters that were real, and she made me want to see the Low Country through her eyes. She made me want to be a better writer.
I have loved every single Dorothea Benton Frank book I've read, and I'm sure I've read them all. I also loved Dorothea Benton Frank, the author, and the woman I met only twice. It was easy to fall in love with her vibrancy, her humor, her ability to tell a great story, and her ability to laugh, often at herself. She will be so deeply missed, and her passing leaves a hole in the literary fiber that no one will fill.
My heart aches for her family, especially her precious Teddy. She clearly loved that little boy with every bit of her being. I know she will live on for him in the memories he holds and the stories that will be shared about what a special grandmother he had and how much she loved him.
May she rest with the angels.