Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Jeanne Froman

 

August 29, 2019

Jeanne Froman

Jeanne Maurer-Koller-Froman was born Hilda Jean Maurer in Almota, Wash., to Dewey Jasper Maurer and Lois Isabel Davidson. She was the second child of five: Velma, Jean, Don, Betty and John Richard. Born with rickets (soft bones), her parents were told Jeanne may never walk but she did learn to walk in full leg casts and became a professional dancer and then a professional dance instructor.

Her dad left the family when Jeanne was eight years old, so from an early age, she earned money to help her single mom out with family expenses by teaching dancing, calligraphy/handwriting, designing, sewing and altering clothing (for wealthy people and her siblings) and working as a waitress. Jeanne graduated in 1941 from Colfax High School in Colfax, Wash. Her talents continued to blossom as she grew up. She later became a talented artist preferring to paint in vibrant water colors rather than the usual pastel colors, a passion she started in 2012, at the age of 89! Her painting of the "Perkins House" was gifted to Gordon Forgey.

She was the mother of Barbara Jeanne (a.k.a Bobbe) Koller-Dye, Jerry Lynn Koller, Douglas Jay Froman, Dennis John Froman, and Julie Jane Froman-Mascilli.

Her first marriage to Owen Koller just 26 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor resulted in two children (Bobbe and Jerry). She miscarried twins and was very ill for several weeks. That marriage ended in divorce. Now she, too, was a single mom with a 2-year-old daughter and a baby son to support. Again, she went back to her sewing and dance teaching so that she could spend time at home with her children rather than putting them in daycare.

In 1947, she met Vearl Froman of Moscow, Idaho, an extremely talented man who had served in the Navy during WWII. Vearl played piano, mandolin, violin, and the spoons! He also loved to roller skate and had a roller-skating act where he rode a regular sized bicycle all while performing tricks while wearing roller skates. They married shortly thereafter and Doug, Dennis and Julie were born of that marriage. Jeanne taught Vearl to tap dance as well since he was already an accomplished ballroom dancer.

They moved to Arizona for Bobbe's health, but ended up in Denver for Vearl to find work, eventually ending up as a machinist for the Dow Chemical Company at Rocky Flats.

She started "Jeanne Froman School of Dance" in Commerce City, Colo., and moved it to Thornton when the family moved there. Jeanne and Julie ran the Miss Thornton Pageant (associated with the Miss Colorado/Miss America Pageants) for three years. The family resided from 1954 to 1975 in Thornton, Colo. Jeanne eventually moved to San Antonio to live with her daughter Julie.

In 2008, at the age of 85, she auditioned for America's Got Talent, wowing the judges by performing a fast tap routine while jumping rope. Although she did not get on the final shows, she did get to the 4th round and was featured in the AGT commercial when she threw a kiss at one of the judges (Piers Morgan)!

She joins her siblings and other family members in the hereafter, and is survived by her children Barbara, Jerry, Doug, Dennis and his wife Anna Jane Froman, and Julie Mascilli; seven grandchildren - Larry, Allen, Jeff and his wife Cindy Dye, & Jeremy Dye; Greg Koller and his wife Cindi Koller of Chatteroy, Wash; Julz Ann Fowler, Wenatchee, Wash., and Elle Koller-O'Malley, Gloucester Point, Va; and 10 great-grandchildren - D'Artagnan Alexander Dye; Zach, Nick & Garren Koller; Kailan & Teigan Lester; Dax Rubio; Caleb & Carter O'Malley, and Katelyn Gandee. The only regret Jeanne expressed was not having enough money to visit or to shower gifts on her family. Jeanne is now 'Dancing with The Stars!"

 
 

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