FRANCES CLARKE Brown Doggett never forgot the great moment in 1940 when she graduated from the old Temple University Teachers College and got to hear a talk by her heroine, Marian Anderson.
Too shy to approach the great Philadelphia-born contralto, Frances contented herself with bathing in the reflected glory of the legendary singer.
Frances was a pioneer in race relations herself, being one of a handful of African-American women at William Penn High School for Girls, and later at Temple. But far from being anxious about her situations, she plunged ahead and excelled.
Frances Doggett, a 30-year teacher in California public schools who returned to Philadelphia after her retirement to become involved in African-American history, died Dec. 11 in Los Angeles. She was 91.
She was born in Philadelphia, the youngest of the nine children of Caroline Clarke Brown and Randolph Lloyd Brown. She was named after her aunt, Mary Frances Clarke, the first black registered nurse in Richmond, Va.
Frances graduated fourth in her class from William Penn High, then an all-girls school, and was the commencement speaker.
While in high school, she was one of the first African-American girls to play on the women's basketball team.
In 1945, Frances and her new husband, the Rev. John Doggett, moved to San Francisco. She taught remedial reading at Bret Harte Elementary School in 1946.
In the 1950s, she moved to Los Angeles where she became a popular teacher at Santa Barbara Avenue Elementary School. She retired in 1977 as a reading specialist at Saturn Avenue Elementary School, in Los Angeles.
Back in Philadelphia, she became associated with Charles Blockson, well-known African-American historian and collector of black memorabilia. She became active with the Philadelphia Genealogical Society and the African American Museum.
Frances was devoted to music and always emphasized its importance as part of the education of young people. She was the sister-in-law of Bill Doggett, jazz and rhythm-and-blues pianist and organist.
"Frances had a passion for the value of the performing arts in the lives of young people," said her son William Ballard Dogget.
"In addition to her great love of Marian Anderson, she loved classical piano music, opera, great organ music, great jazz and had a special passion for nurturing the careers of aspiring African-American singers and musicians in the classical performing arts."
Her marriage ended in divorce. Besides her son, she is survived by a daughter, Lorraine Doggett Melton, and another son, John Nelson Doggett III.
William Doggett is establishing a memorial scholarship in his mother's name for young African-American singers and musicians. Donations may be directed to William Doggett, 2370 Market St., #363, San Francisco CA 94114.