Fran DuRocher, M.D., passed away August 5 at home in Dumfries, Virginia, following a long illness. She was 80.
Born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in 1943, Fran knew early in life she wanted to be a physician. She went on to found a practice in internal medicine as a physician and diagnostician.
This career path was rare for women. When she graduated from Trinity College (Washington, D.C.) in 1964 with honors in biology, only slightly more than 5% of medical school matriculants were women. She considered medical research, went to Brown University and graduated with a Master of Science degree in 1966.
But Fran knew in her heart “I truly wanted to be a doctor and care for people” and was accepted at The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in September 1966. She graduated in 1970 and completed her internship and residency at the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital and Philadelphia VA Hospital.
“I met other women along the way whose parents didn’t support their choice to become doctors, but my parents always supported me and ended up supporting my friends, as well. I was very fortunate,’’ she said.
She spent six years working for Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania, moved to Washington, D.C., in 1979 to work at Group Health Association for eight years, and became associate chair of internal medicine in the Annandale Center of Group Health.
“While Fran was working at Group Health there was a nursing strike,’’ her sister Joan DuRocher said. “Picket lines were around the building. Fran picked up pastries and approached one of the nurse leaders with this offering. Fran expressed that she supported the nurses completely and that nurses were and are the backbone of any medical practice. But she went on to explain that she took an oath to care for her patients and needed to cross the line to do just that. The nurses respected Fran for that because that is who she was.’’
She and Barbara Carson, M.D., opened an internal medicine practice in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1987. Siggi Moser, RN, headed up office management until the practice closed in 2004.
Fran served on faculties at Hahnemann Medical College and George Washington University Medical School, was president of the American Medical Women’s Association in D.C. and was on the staff at INOVA Fairfax Hospital.
Fran described her and Siggi’s bond as inseparable. They lived together for 32 years, marrying in 2015 when it became legally possible. Fran and Siggi joined Little River United Church of Christ in 1994. Fran helped guide the church’s Opening and Affirming Committee that led to the church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. Fran later felt honored to be on the pastoral search committee that hired Senior Pastor Shelli M. Poe, Ph.D., and to be treasurer of the church’s endowment fund for 14 years.
Fran was avidly interested in politics since she was nine and watched every national convention. At Trinity, she joined several political groups. She remembers going to the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon debates, presidential parades and inaugural balls. “My history was the Civil Rights movement,’’ she said. “Becoming a Democrat was really pretty easy.”
A self-described “news junky,’’ she started a current affairs discussion group for her Four Seasons community on Zoom during COVID and continued to host the sessions until recently.
Fran and Siggi enjoyed traveling to the Caribbean and Europe and sharing meals with family and friends. Fran celebrated her 80th birthday in March by throwing a large dinner party for friends, family and her team of caretakers.
She was preceded in death by her wife, beloved friend and soulmate Siggi Moser; father Armand D.DuRocher, CPA; mother Teresa L. DuRocher, and treasured “Grampa Jimmy,” James Leverone. She leaves behind her cherished sister “Joanie” Joan DuRocher (partner John Salisbury); niece Liz Brouillard and grandnephew Matt Behrle; nephew Dave Brouillard (wife Jenn) and grandnephews Jon and Brayden Brouillard; first cousin Robby Janelle; sister-in-law Friedlinde Rieker (husband Peter Herzinger) from Weinsberg, Germany, as well as niece Martina Rieker at the American University of Cairo, nephew Dr. Joe Rieker of Göttingen, Germany (wife Elke); grandnephews Florian, Tobi and “Basti” Sebastian Rieker; and grandnieces LisiRieker and Bianca Gill.
A celebration of life was held at Little River UCC, 8410 Little River Tpke., Annandale, VA 22003 at 11 AM on Saturday, September 16. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Little River UCC Endowment Fund or, because of the care it provided for those Fran loved, the Inova Health Foundation – Inova Schar Cancer Institute, 8110 Gatehouse Rd., Suite 200, East Falls Church VA 22042-1210. Send condolences to Joan T. DuRocher, 107 Old River Rd., Unit 6, Lincoln, RI, 02865.