Frances Fusae Hara McNellis, Age :83
Jan 18,1937---Nov 04,2020

Frances Fusae Hara McNellis, 83, passed away Tuesday November 3rd, at her home in Lenexa, KS. A funeral service will be held at Porter Funeral Home in Lenexa, KS on Monday November 9th at 1:30pm.  A graveside service will be held in Deerfield, KS at Deerfield Cemetery on November 10th at 1:00pm. In lieu of flowers, family requests memorial contributions be made to Heifer International

Fran was born January 18, 1937 in Hilo, HI.  She was the daughter of Shigeru and Yoshiko Hara.  She came to Kansas, (Yes, we all questioned her sanity on the move!) to attend Kansas University and there met the love of her life, Jesse Manley McNellis.  They were an interesting couple, he a red headed Irishman and she an islander with Japanese roots.  They married in August of 1958.  She went on to a decorated career as an educator in the Lawrence Unified School District where she taught history, government, and political science.  She was known as a teacher that cared so much about the student, she could ruin their GPA! And yet she was beloved.  She taught them how to think. Her impact she had with her students, colleagues and friends are almost as much a legacy as her family.  She had three children, John, Michael and Maury and 13 grandchildren…all of which knew they were her favorite!

She is preceded in death by her parents Shigeru and Yoshiko Hara, her older brother Floyd Hara, older sister May Ochipinti and younger brother, Stan Hara.  Fran is survived by her husband of 62 years, Jesse Manley McNellis, sons John McNellis of Manhattan, KS,  Michael McNellis of Overland Park, KS daughter, Maury Jo Hundley of Argyle, TX along with a son in law, two daughters in law and numerous grandchildren from Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. 


Kay Rytting Nov 05 ,2020

friend ,Lawrence ,Kansas

She is an amazing teacher who strongly influenced many of my children. I appreciate that so much.

Alison Smith Nov 07 ,2020

Student ,Lawrence ,Kansas

She was an extraordinary educator and the world is a better place because of her. I'm sorry for your loss.

Larry McElwain Nov 07 ,2020

Friend ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Dear McNellis Family, Our entire family wish to give you our condolences upon the death of Mrs. McNellis. She was a wonderful lady and a great teacher. She gave the three McElwain kids (Erin, Davis & Anna) a superb education at LHS. We know that your family will miss her greatly. With gratitude, Larry McElwain

Andy Tuttle Nov 07 ,2020

Student ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Mrs. McNellis was the most gifted teacher I ever had. She was pushed me to do my best work and had confidence in me even when I didn't. My condolences to her wonderful family.

Jeni Eggers Nov 07 ,2020

Mrs. McNellis is one of those teachers I remember the most from high school. She always expected you to work hard, but she also cared very deeply about her students. Make no mistake, she had a had a positive impact on everyone she taught. She and her family is in my prayers.

Paige Stephenson Nov 07 ,2020

Even though I never met Ms. Fran, I felt like I knew her through you Maury. I am so sorry for your loss and pray that memories of her joyful spirit will comfort you all in the days ahead. I am praying for your family. God bless you all.

Joan Eidson Nov 07 ,2020

Student ,Niangua ,Missouri

I am so sorry to hear of Mrs. McNellis' passing. She was a wonderful teacher. She was strict. You better listen, you better take notes. You knew what to expect on her tests. She was fair. She was one of my favorite teachers. Sending condolences to all of her family and friends. Joan (Craig) Eidson

Becky OConnor Nov 07 ,2020

Friend/co-worker ,otrawa ,Kansas

Hi, Jess: I am so saddened to hear of Fran's passing. She was such a delight to be around. Always had such positive vibes surrounding her happy spirit. Know I am thinking of you in this time of grief. But also know she is in the Lord's arms no doubt wanting to try one of her delicious recipes out on him and his angels! God bless, Becky O.

Amy Meece Nov 07 ,2020

Friends with Maury ,Dallas ,Texas

Praying for you all now in the loss of a wife, a mother, and grandmother. Fran was one of the sweetest, kindest, most intelligent ladies I’ve known. And she was the best sewing teacher I’ve ever had! I’m thankful for her life! Praying she is at peace and happy with Jesus, and that you all feel His love now during these hard days. Love to and God bless you all.

Jana (Hoisington) Matthews Nov 07 ,2020

Former student and friend in adulthood ,Boulder ,Colorado

Posted on Facebook, 11/6/20 A dear teacher died this week. Mrs. McNellis was an amazing influence on my life and a good friend in my adulthood. She was the most incredible social studies/government teacher we had (and LHS boasted several great ones). Born in pre-statehood Hawaii, she was a proud American and loved God and country. She instilled civic duty in all of us. We received extra credit for registering to vote when we turned 18. Her grueling news quizzes every two weeks taught me a love for current events (and instilled a habit of listening to NPR every morning to keep up with them). Her extensive reading habit taught me to love the printed word and to read from all vantage points. She felt strongly about respecting "the loyal opposition." She was fond of the quote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." These words guided me as I navigated the halls of Washington. She was highly engaging and accessible. I was frequently frustrated by her ability to coyly argue both sides of any issue, but knew that when I needed to further the discussion du jour, she would be available at the end of the day. She encouraged our curiosity and even created an independent study on communism for several of us. And she welcomed us into her home and fed us cinnamon rolls when our papers were due at midnight. I most appreciated her dedication toward her students both in and out of the classroom. She and I had many brunches at First Watch in Lawrence during visits home at Christmastime. She lived near my parents and always insisted on picking me up and also paying. I will miss her commentary and insights. 2020 would have provided fodder for a cornucopia of wit and wisdom--both in conversation and in her Christmas letter! I will miss her so. She often quoted the Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times." Then she would add, with a finger raised and a wink, "But not too interesting!"

Lauren Chandler Nov 08 ,2020

Friend ,Copper Canyon ,Texas

I know Mrs. Fran was so beloved by her family and will be greatly missed. Love and prayers to those who are missing her especially. 💛

Mark Chediak Nov 08 ,2020

As a former student of Ms. McNellis at Lawrence High School, I am saddened to hear of her passing. She was an outstanding teacher and a gracious person. She had quite an influence on me and helped spark my passion for politics. She will be missed.

Peter & Virginia Curran Nov 08 ,2020

Friends ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Fran was a truly superb educator and person. Her passing was a great loss. We extend all our condolences to Jesse and family.

Jeff Reese Nov 08 ,2020

Friend ,Nashville ,Tennessee

Growing up in Lawrence, the McNellis family was my Other Family. John and I were Eagle scouts together and Jess was our fearless scoutmaster, along with all of the Burgess men (Troop 55). Michael and I were on the LHS gymnastics team - I was honored to see him win so many awards. Maury Jo was like the little sister I didn't have. And Fran was my other mother. I spent so many hours in their home and experiencing their love and lessons about life. We've visited periodically over the years and watched the family grow. Her legacy as an educator, mentor and friend will be shared by many people. But I will miss her as my other mother. Regrets that I cannot make it to Deerfield, where I would enjoy seeing the entire clan. Rest in the Lord's arms, Fran. You will be missed by all those you touched.

Betty Scribner Nov 08 ,2020

Friend ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Hello Jess and Family, I wish to tell you how sorry I am for the loss of Fran. She was always so delightful to talk with at the USGS lunches and parties from the past. Her influence reflects on the lives of many people. She will always be remembered by me as the optimistically, happy lady. Praying for you during this difficult time. Love, Betty Scribner

Kerry Sutorius Nov 08 ,2020

friend ,Bainbridge Island ,Washington

Mike, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing - yet it brings me joy to know that the love your family shares continues on - know that Steve and I hold you all in our thoughts and prayers - sending much love to you my friend <3 Kerry

Kristi (Powell) Hartley Nov 09 ,2020

Coworker ,Littleton ,Colorado

Jess, I am saddened by the passing of Fran. Jeff and I send our condolences and prayers for you and your family.

Doug Gibson Nov 09 ,2020

Son in laws mother ,Edmond ,Oklahoma

Jesse, John, Michael, Maury, Sheila and I are thinking of you, especially today, as you honor your wife and mother. Fran was always so kind to me. I will remember fondly her welcoming me into her lake home during my personal and most difficult loss. I know you will miss her dearly but on this and every day forward I hope your heart is warmed with sweet memories of the many good times that you all have shared. May God continue to comfort you. Doug and Sheila

Joyce Tallman Nov 09 ,2020

Teacher ,Lawrence, KS 66049, USA ,Kansas

My thoughts and prayers to the family of Mrs. McNellis. I respected her as a teacher and a parent. Her son Mike took care of my children after school while I was working on my Masters and he did a wonderful job. I am sure his mother influenced his ability to interact with my children.

Doug Gibson Nov 09 ,2020

Father in law to Michael ,Edmond ,Oklahoma

Jesse, John, Michael, Maury, Sheila and I are praying for you all today and the days ahead! Your Mom and wife was so caring and kind to me when I experienced a great personal loss. The warmth showed to me at the lake house helped me immeasurably during that time. We pray that you will be comforted by the great memories you have. Doug & Sheila

Julia porter Nov 09 ,2020

Friend ,Overland Park ,Kansas

What a wonderful woman! She always had smile on her face. I enjoyed talking with her and hearing about her family and flower gardens. The family is in my thoughts and prayers

James Bong Nov 09 ,2020

Long time friends and neighbors. ,Dallas ,Texas

To Mr. McNellis and family, our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy. The Bong family have known Mr. and Mrs. McNellis for 50 years, first as neighbors and friends in Lawrence for 40 years, and continued on as dear friends thereafter. We will always cherish Mrs. McNellis' loving friendship and kindness...our thoughts and prayers to her loving family and extended family, God Bless to all of you. Bong boys: James (Dallas, TX), John (Houston, TX), and Jerry (Chicago, IL).

Lloyd Stullken Nov 09 ,2020

Friend ,Topeka ,Kansas

Jesse, I feel a great sorrow in my heart for you. Fran was such a special person for many reasons but particularly as one to keep you grounded. Ha?

Don and Caroline Signor Nov 09 ,2020

Friends ,Overbrook ,Kansas

Dear Jesse and Family -- We are saddened by the passing of Fran and extend our sincere sympathy to you all. Fran was such a dear friend whom we have known since she taught our children in high school and along with my colleague Jess, in the USGS. Thank you for all the occasions we have enjoyed together and the memories. We know she is and will continue to be missed by you and all of the people who knew her. Again, with deepest sympathy, our warmest regards ---- Caroline and Don (The troublemaker) Signor Monday, 9, November, 2020

Donnell Martin Nov 09 ,2020

Family Friend ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Mrs. McNellis and her family were a constant in my early life in Lawrence. My heart goes out to Jesse, John, Michael and Maury Jo and the rest of the McNellis clan. Mrs. McNellis was a once in a lifetime teacher. She made me a better student and gave me an appreciation for learning. This family would open up their home to us young LHS students for FCA meetings and other social gatherings. My brother Billy and I always felt welcome and as a part of the family.

Gary & Carolyn Wullenwaber Nov 09 ,2020

We are so sorry for your loss. Fran was such a lovely lady. We will miss her bubbly personality and bright smile. May God comfort you all.

Kate Lohmann Nov 10 ,2020

student ,Phoenix ,Arizona

My deepest condolences on your loss. I had Mrs. McNellis as my high school civics teacher and she made a resounding impact on my life. I always register for a political party affiliation so I can vote in the primary election, I listen to NPR every day (a habit she instilled), and I always ALWAYS vote. I can see her in my mind's eye very clearly and hear her voice teaching about the Shakers and Shapers of our time. I can still remember some of them from the late 1990s...her tests were tough so the info sticks with you! Again, my deepest sympathies...she will be missed. She definitely made a great difference in this world!

Toby Martell Nov 10 ,2020

Friend and newspaper delivery person ,Lawrence ,Kansas

I remember the huge garden they had on the plot of land next to our neighbors, big enough to put 2 houses on. Always liked seeing them working in the garden. Talked to Mr. and Mrs. McNellis a lot. Learned a lot about gardening from them too. I delivered their newspaper on their porch for 7 years back in the mid 80s to early 90s. My condolences. Love and prayers ❤️

Brad Steeples Nov 10 ,2020

Student ,Redmond ,Washington

Changing Face of Communism was the most engaging class I ever had of any kind at any level, and it was because of Mrs McNellis. She had a true passion for her material and a true desire to connect with her students and inspire them to think independently. The discussions in that class were amazing, we respected each other's viewpoints and had real, productive debates where we all learned from one another, something so desperately needed in today's world. Thanks Mrs. McNellis for being an inspiration in my life and challenging my 17 year old mind the way you did. RIP.

Susan Gage Nov 11 ,2020

Maury and McNellis family, I am so sorry to hear of Fran's passing. She was such a force in a tiny package! Incredibly smart, incredibly kind, always with a twinkle in her eye. So glad to have known her growing up, through not only my friendship with Maury but also in the halls of LHS. I cannot fathom the loss. But I send my love and prayers for peace for you all. xo -Susan

David Carttar Nov 11 ,2020

student ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Mrs. McNellis was probably the most inspiring teacher I ever had. Thirty-five years ago, she opened my eyes to the relevance that history has on contemporary life and society. I'll never forget the Survey of U.S. History class I took from her in my senior year at LHS. I had just returned from a year in Germany as an exchange student, so my mind was fertile ground for the seeds she planted. We had a weekly assignment: to bring a "current issue" to class for discussion each Friday. During the early weeks, many people brought facts: uncontroversial reports that any sane person would unequivocally praise or condemn. But Mrs. McNellis wanted ISSUES: unresolved, preferably contentious topics on which her students were bound to disagree. It was in her class that I first learned about Nelson Mandela, and that I first learned the names of the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico. It was in her class that I learned about the effect that railroad construction in the 1860s had on the later settlement patters of the Western U.S. It was in her class that I learned to care how the past connects to the present, and the present to the future. I also took Mrs. McNellis's legendary Rise of Communism class. Only as an adult did I realize what a gutsy move that was: to teach high-school kids about the origins and legacies of communism at the height of the Cold War. But that was Mrs. McNellis: seemingly fearless in the face of the need to educate Lawrence kids to be good citizens. My own mom was a teacher, as is my wife today; so I profoundly appreciate the determination and passion that go into being an effective teacher. Mrs. McNellis had those in abundance. About five years ago, I was blessed to see her at a lecture I was giving about a historical map of Lawrence that I had published. I told her I probably wouldn't have thought to take on the challenge if it hadn't been for her influence. It meant so much to me to be able to tell her how I felt. I am so grateful to have known her.

Helen “Hendle” Pendleton Rumbaut Nov 12 ,2020

Friend ,Austin ,Texas

My husband, Mike Ambrose, and I were sad to hear of Fran’s passing. I took a photo of her in July 2015 when she and Jesse attended the memorial service for my dad, Bill Pendleton. Dad and Jesse were both members of the Lawrence Breakfast Optimist Club, and good friends. Dad often sent me notes saying that Fran had just given him another jar of delicious homemade jelly with some exotic name, and he shared some with us when we visited him in Lawrence. Our deepest sympathy goes to dear Jesse and his family in this hard time. May the Lord Jesus Christ give you His peace.

Justine Burton Nov 12 ,2020

Optimist Club Member ,Lawrence ,Kansas

Hello Jess, I want to let you know that I am thinking about you and praying for you during this time of sorrow. Take care and God bless you Justine LBO

Helen “Hendle” Pendleton Rumbaut Nov 12 ,2020

Friend ,Austin ,Texas

My husband, Mike Ambrose, and I were sad to hear of Fran’s passing. I took a photo of her in July 2015 when she and Jesse attended the memorial service for my dad, Bill Pendleton. Dad and Jesse were both members of the Lawrence Breakfast Optimist Club, and good friends. Dad often sent me notes saying that Fran had just given him another jar of delicious homemade jelly with some exotic name, and shared some with us when we visited Dad in Lawrence. Our deepest sympathy goes to dear Jesse and his family in this hard time. May the Lord Jesus Christ give you His peace.

Doug Wood Nov 14 ,2020

Former student ,Durant ,Oklahoma

I was saddened to hear of Fran's passing. She was my teacher at LHS in 1987-1988 and wrote one of the recommendations that help me get into Boston University. Fran was a phenomenal classroom teacher that challenged us at every turn. She had a personality driven approach that resonated with us. Her constant demand for us to think and think in different ways was her mission and it worked. I even remember we discussed a nuclear arms treaty and ABC television came to the classroom. She had some kind of pull! I fondly recall her letting us turn in papers at her house, something above and beyond. Her husband, Jess, was a consummate gentleman and was always kind to me, which I appreciated. Fran was a fantastic teacher, an excellent human being, and a strong woman. Peace.

Funeral Service
Porter Funeral Home
8535 Monrovia St.
Zip Code:
Nov 09 ,2020
1:30 PM
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Graveside Service
Deerfield Cemetery
Zip Code:
Nov 10 ,2020
1:00 PM
Google Map: