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Frances Manbeck Taber ’60

February 7, 2021, in Wenatchee, Washington.

Frances received her high school diploma from Nürnberg American High School in Germany and majored in German at Reed. After earning a master’s degree at the University of Oregon, she taught humanities and languages at Wenatchee Valley College. While living in Wenatchee, she met Warren Taber, and they married in 1967. In addition to Warren’s children from a previous marriage, they had one child, Michael.

After moving to the Oregon coast and then to Seattle—where Fran taught speed-reading courses and worked as a licensed securities broker and real estate agent—she and Warren returned to the Wenatchee Valley. They built a log cabin with a cherry orchard in a narrow canyon near Cashmere, Washington. Fran raised gardens and practiced a philosophy of “light living” and self-sufficiency. An ill-fated attempt to make a business of raising worms and compost led to her opening a small store that purveyed worms, but she added books and local arts and crafts to the mix. That modest enterprise, Homesteader Book Store, grew into a thriving bookstore and hangout for liberal-minded readers. Fran ran the store for 15 years, taking on a partner the last few years so she could fulfill her dream of running sled dogs with Warren in the snow and ice around Fish Lake. As rugged as she was literate, Fran lived for five years in a small cabin with 16 dogs. When Warren died in 2000, she refocused her work on small-farm agriculture and valley improvement. She was one of the founders of the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market and was named Farmers Market Lady of the Year in 1980.

Fran was editor and publisher of Washington Tilth Producers’ quarterly magazine and helped develop Community Farm Connection, a nonprofit marketing support group for local small farmers. She served on boards of the Wenatchee Downtown Association, Wenatchee Farmers Market, Community Farm Connection, Riverfront Park Advisory Committee, and the Community Resource Center at Wenatchee Valley College. Her many accomplishments included bringing National Public Radio to the Wenatchee area. An avid hiker, backpacker, and camper, she was an active volunteer for the Boy Scouts, Wenatchee YMCA, and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. She is survived by her son, Michael Taber, and her three stepchildren, Constance Taber Inglin, John Taber, and Jeanne Taber.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2021

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