Frances Rowlin’s trumpet took her places.

It introduced her to the woman who became her best friend of more than 50 years, Dorothy Young, who could “hear it across the lake” when they were both Girl Guides at Caddy Lake Camp. It took her to the Manitoba Music Festival, where Dorothy says she won “all kinds of awards.” It took her south of the border as one of the first Canadians to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade in California. And it took her to St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, where she played for her church community in the choir for more than 50 years.

Died on December 14, 2020
Winnipeg, MB
Age 77

Fran lived in Winnipeg for most of her life and worked in the HR department at Manitoba Hydro and in the Employee Relations Office at the University of Manitoba. She never had any herself, but she loved children. They loved her back, and she had many friends who she was so close to that they considered each other family.

Eventually, Fran insisted on passing her “phenomenal instrument” to Dorothy’s 16-year-old daughter, because she knew if she could play the trumpet, it would open her world up, too, and make her transition to a new school easier. Fran spent many hours happily teaching her how to play.

“She’d been family to me since I was a teenager,” Dorothy says, reflecting on a half-century of friendship.

Fran’s beloved instrument is still used by the lead trumpeters at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate in Winnipeg.

This story was first published in MacLean’s as part of a collaborative project with Canadian journalism schools to document the lives of people who have died from COVID-19. To learn more about the project and to read the other obituaries, click here.