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Coda - Final Notes and Obituaries for Jim Misitano's Parents and Siblings

(Special Exception for Granddaughter Fran, daughter of Tom)

Frances (Fran) (Misitano) Hammond
  • Birth: April 8, 1955
  • Death: January 25, 2005
  • Marriage: June, 1975 to Martin Hammond

Obituary in Altoona Mirror,

Mrs. Frances G. Hammond, 49, died Tuesday night, Jan. 25, 2005, at her residence after a brief illness.

She was born April 8, 1955, in Camden, NJ, daughter of Thomas C. Misitano and the late Kathleen P. (Knicely) Misitano. She married Martin L. Hammond June 28, 1975, in Altoona.

She was a 1973 graduate of Altoona Area High School.

Mrs. Hammond was a homemaker. She enjoyed spending time with her family and faithful dog, P.J. and summer months at the pool.

Surviving are her father of Altoona,...,three brothers and two sisters.

Below Left: Fran's High School Photo

Below Right: Fran on the steps of Misitano Family home in 1963 celebrating her First Holy Communion

Cousin Jim's Final Notes

I've included Fran in this section because of her special significance to our story here.

Fran grew up in her father's (Tom Misitano) household, which was next door to the Misitano household of the parents Francis and Frances, and their sons and daughters mentioned many times above. She was just about to graduate from high school when her grandmother Frances, living next door, passed in May of 1973.

I don't know the exact details, but apparently Fran was involved in the sorting and disposition of her grandmother's personal effects after her death. Somewhere in these effects was a plastic bag containing a bundle of the letters which are transcribed above from my father, Jim Misitano.

On April 2, 1998, Jim Misitano's family threw him a surprise 75th birthday party. There was a large number of friends and family in attendance. When the gift-giving commenced, Jim (and the rest of us) were somewhere between shocked and happily surprised when Fran gifted him the packet of long dormant letters. I'm not sure whether anyone else even knew of their existence at that time.

My dad went on to treasure this gift and kept it among his prized possessions another five years until his passing in 2003 at the age of 80. One of my brothers and I were responsible for sorting through his effects, which was when I came into possession of these letters.

I took the letters home and read them through, stunned by the treasure of original history that I held in my hands. I had a notion at the time that these should be shared more widely, but thought it would be appropriate to add context to them. I spent time over the intervening years gathering World War II histories from his army training camp and combat division, sorting through old family photographs, and researching details where I could find them on and newspaper archives.

Another 20 years have passed since I first held the letters, and much procrastination has taken place. The final impetus to finishing the task of assembling the letters and background notes is the upcoming date of what would have been his 100th birthday, April 2nd, 2023.

While I have done a fair amount of work transcribing the letters and assembling the background materials, this volume of work would not have been possible if not for dad's original faithful chronicling of his experiences in letters to his "Dearest Mother," his mother's incredible foresight in retaining the letters in pristine condition from the very first to the last, and the recognition by my cousin Fran of their value when she came into possession of them and then passing them on to my dad.

There are over 130 letters in this collection, and without fail, each and every one of them begins with the phrase "Dearest Mother." I never had any question what the title of this collection should be...

- Jim Jr. (Grandson to Frances "Dearest Mother" Misitano, son to "Jimmy" Misitano, cousin to Frances "Fran" (Misitano) Hammond.


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