Frans named foundation philanthropist of year

Feb 20, 2013
Photo by: Donated photo Pictured, from left, are MedWest Foundations director Steve Brown; Charlene Thomas; Dr. Charles Thomas; MedWest-Haywood COO Teresa Reynolds; Phyllis Prevost, Teresa Liner; and HRMC Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Laura Leatherwood; sitting is Jean Frans.

The Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation has selected Jean Frans as the 2012 Philanthropist of the Year. Frans, a part-time resident of Haywood County, was unanimously approved by the Foundation Board of Trustees as the Philanthropist of the Year for her long time service on the board, commitment to volunteering and financial support of the hospital.

Frans was born in Hickory.  After graduation she attended Lenoir Rhyne College and graduated with a degree in elementary education. She taught in the public schools of Winston-Salem for three years and decided to return to college and received an associate degree in radiology technology from Baptist College in Winston-Salem.  She worked at Baptist Hospital for 13 years before returning to Hickory to work in the family business.

Her father Lee P. Frans, who owned the Orange Crush Bottling Company franchise in Hickory, was approached by a small startup company that had gone through bankruptcy twice to purchase a bottling franchise.  In 1937, her father purchased a franchise to bottle Pepsi-Cola in Hickory.  By many account,s the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company her father started today is one of the most successful franchises within the Pepsi system and services all of Western North Carolina.

Frans enjoyed playing golf and was an accomplished player who competed in numerous golf tournaments in WNC.  In fact she participated in the Country Club of Asheville Ladies Invitational for many years and met women from all over the country.  She doesn’t remember who invited her to visit Haywood County, but said that once she visited, she knew she wanted to spend more time in this beautiful area.  Frans became a member of Laurel Ridge Country Club and made residence here for the summer months.

Frans became a Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation board trustee in 2005, and along with her friend Phyllis Prevost, endowed a scholarship fund for continuing education for nurses.  She has been a leading sponsor of the HRMC Foundation Golf & Gala Event for many years and also supported the Outpatient Care Center and the Emergency Department.

“Jean Frans is the third recipient of this prestigious award and well deserving of this honor.  “She has given tirelessly to the mission of the HRMC Foundation and has committed her talents and financial resources to show her support, said Dr. Laura Leatherwood, chairman of the HRMC Trustees. “This community and hospital is forever in debt to Jean for her unwavering support over the years.”

Her long time friend Phyllis Prevost, who received the first prestigious award, said “Jean is a dear friend and she believes that people who live in a community should support endeavors that improve the quality of life.”

In November 2012, Jean was going to be honored at a surprise reception, but due to health issues the reception was cancelled. Recently, representatives from the board traveled to Hickory to present her with this award.   Leatherwood felt that it was important to visit her and thank her for her support and generosity.  The permanent plaque is displayed at the entrance to the hospital. Past Philanthropists of the Year include, Beatrice Medford and Phyllis Prevost.

For information about the HRMC Foundation, call 452-8343.  The HRMC Foundation’s mission is to promote and administer charitable gifts to advance and strengthen MedWest- Haywood.