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In Loving Memory

Layton, Mary Frances

Mary Frances Layton (nee Callanan) of St. Louis, Missouri passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, at the age of 82 on September 5, 2022.

Fran, as she was known by all who loved her, was born in St. Louis on March 31, 1940 to James Shannon and Ruth Elizabeth Callanan (nee Carson). She was the middle child with older brother James Carson and younger brother Charles William, all of whom preceded her in death.

She attended Corpus Christi elementary school in Jennings and Rosati-Kain High School in the Central West End where she met her lifelong friend Judy Huddleston and future sisters-in-law from the Soete family.

In 1958, she married the late James Howard Soete, and became a mother to four children:  Kevin James, the late Mary Eileen, Cynthia Ann, and Michael Lee. They later divorced.

In 1969, at Shaw Avenue Methodist Church, she married Phillip Paul Layton, of St. Mary’s Missouri, veteran of the United States Navy, and became mother to Dawn Marie.

In her work life, she provided in-home childcare and later worked for over a decade as a diet clerk at Incarnate Word Hospital.

Fran’s life was grounded in her beautifully kept home and her family. At holidays, her home was always festive and full of the lively sounds of laughter and conversation from a table surrounded by loved ones.  She enjoyed family reunions as well, and for many years she coordinated them for both the Callanan and Layton sides of the family. No reunion was complete without field games Fran would plan for everyone like tug of war and the water balloon toss.

She volunteered as a den mother with the Cub Scouts and as the cookie chairman for the Girl Scouts for her children’s troops.  She enjoyed arts and crafts including producing her own glazed pieces in a ceramics class at the Cherokee Community Center.  Several pieces she made are still found decorating her home. Later in her life she took drawing and watercolor classes as well.  Her legendary handmade snowman collection is testimony to her fondness for attending arts and crafts festivals.

Summertime found Fran camping with Phil and some of his cousins at Sam A. Baker State Park. For many years in a row, they camped as a group, hosting evening “theme nights” complete with a meal befitting the theme including costumes. She also hiked to the top of Mudlick Mountain with two family campmates and was very proud of this accomplishment.

Fran had a well-developed sense of adventure. Branching from her home base, she loved to travel and was always engaged, curious, and eager to learn about the places she visited.  These included various trips in the United States. She had great awe for the diversity of landscapes: mountains, beaches, oceans, and forests. Internationally, Fran’s adventures included trips to Ireland, London, England, and St. Petersburg, Russia. We believe Fran would have been a formidable contestant on “The Amazing Race,” one of her favorite shows.

When not traveling, Fran’s flights were of imagination provided by her voracious reading. Fran loved books, surrounding herself with piles currently in progress and those yet to be read. Once, she was introduced to e-books with a Kindle, but she was steadfastly loyal to the joy of turning the paper pages of good book in her hand.

Fran was also known for her love of gardens, plants, and trees. She nearly always knew the names of flowers and trees and enjoyed growing plants in her backyard, cultivating houseplants, and visiting her favorite places to enjoy nature like the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and Pere Marquette State Park. She never met a hosta she didn’t like.

Fran was a woman of faith.  She celebrated as a parishioner of Holy Family and St. Catherine Laboure.

Those who will dearly miss Fran, “Sis,” “Franma,” “G-ma” include:

Her devoted husband Phillip Paul Layton

Her children and their families:

Kevin James Soete

The late Mary Eileen (Frederick) Biermann, Sr and their children:
Frederick Jr. (Tara) Biermann: Charlotte, Audrey, James, and Luke
Mary Elizabeth (Matt) Engle: Eva and Leo
Michael Biermann
Matthew (Kindle) Biermann: Cora and Stuart

Cynthia Ann Soete (Hamdy Mahmoud) and their children:
Karim Mahmoud (Annabel Arcari-Bowler)
Omar Mahmoud
Jamal El Deen Mahmoud (Morium Akhtar): expecting soon
Abo AlHamd Mahmoud
Hamza Mahmoud

Michael (Claire) Soete and their children:
Anne Soete: Benjamin
Robert (Rachael) Soete
Grace (Kenneth) Higgins: Rose Frances
Joseph Soete

Dawn (Patrick) Finney and their children:
Ian Finney
Isolde Finney

She will be missed by many other family members: cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends

Services: Visitation will be on Friday September 9, 2022 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at Kutis Funeral Home
5255 Lemay Ferry Road St. Louis Missouri 63129

Mass will be celebrated on Saturday September 10, 2022 at 10:00 am at St. Catherine Laboure Church
9740 Sappington Road Saint Louis, MO 63128


2 thoughts on “Layton, Mary Frances”

  1. Dear Phill, my heart is with you in the passing of your love, Fran.
    I loved talking to Fran, she always had either a story or advise regarding my plants. She will be dearly missed.
    My love and prayers for you and her loved ones.

  2. Dear Phill, my heart is with you in the passing of your love, Fran.
    I loved talking to Fran, she always had either a story or advise regarding my plants. She will be dearly missed.
    My love and prayers for you and her loved ones.


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