Frances Helms Monday, 80, died May 7, 2017, as she wanted– at home and in her own
bed, in Martinsville, Virginia. The only child of the late Earl Frank and Nannie Ingram Helms, she was born April 18, 1937, the first child born into the congregation of Starling Avenue Baptist Church, of which she was a lifelong member. Frances Monday was a pioneering professional woman. After graduating from Mary Washington College she taught high school, only to discover that she did not have the temperament for it, and so attended Wake Forest Law School, the lone woman in her class. After graduation and marriage she found that most law firms of the 1960s did not want a female in their midst. She returned home to Martinsville, which welcomed her. She and her husband J. Grady Monday formed the partnership of “Monday & Monday,” which served the public for almost four decades. A mentor to an entire generation of local lady lawyers, Frances delighted in their success. She enjoyed her law career—“the one job,” she would say with a wry smile, “where people call me a B ____ , and it’s actually a compliment.” In one memorable trial, she caught a witness blatantly lying, and her fierce cross-examination sent him into (nonfatal) cardiac arrest. Frances was a creative and somewhat compulsive serial hobbyist, mastering numerous crafts from stained glass to pottery to furniture refinishing. Travel was a great favorite, and for years she chaperoned high school trips to Europe, discreetly ignoring their wine consumption. Riesling was her own preference, always in crystal– “because it tastes better that way.” She loved Motown music, the beach (wearing a gigantic, floppy hat), trashy romance novels, summer tomato sandwiches with Duke’s mayonnaise, and big, bold, beautiful jewelry. Despite being a proud Southerner, she loathed grits. She habitually bought every gossip rag in the supermarket checkout line . . . but always denied doing so. Foremost she loved family history, and her family, including a collection of unruly and hideously spoiled grand-dogs.
She is survived by J. Grady Monday, her husband, life and law partner of 51 years, who cared for her devotedly during her long final illness; their son Eric Helms Monday; daughter-in- law, Monica Taylor Monday; and her one, deeply and dearly loved grandson, Helms Taylor Monday.
Frances emphatically wanted her passing to be “not something dreary—play some Dixieland Jazz and have a party, like in New Orleans!”
In lieu of flowers, donations to Carlisle School are gratefully appreciated.
The family will receive condolences for one hour prior to a memorial service to be held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at Starling Avenue Baptist Church, immediately followed by a celebration of the life of Frances Monday at Chatmoss Country Club — with music, food & wine, laughter, and many fond memories.