-Springfield- Mrs. Frances Hortense Decker succumbed on July 21, 2016 at the Effingham County Care Center in Springfield, Georgia, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Dementia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was 96 years old and remained sweet and unfailingly polite to the end.
Frances Hortense Bell was born on September 12, 1919 in Bremen, Georgia, to Benjamin Franklin and Mabel Bell, the second of nine children and the oldest girl. She was predeceased by her brothers, David Earl Bell, Franklin Bell and Mercerlene Lawrence and is survived by her sisters, Inez McDaniel, Iris Southerland and Barbara Jones and her brothers, C.D. Bell and Jimmie R. Bell, as well as by beloved brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. Although this large family did not have a lot of material possessions, they consistently and continually interact by talking and laughing together about their shared experiences and their love and devotion to each other. It is always a pleasure to attend their regular reunions and listen to the old stories and laughter and witness the persistence of the enduring affection among them. Never was there a cross word.
Hortense trained as a nurse in Orlando, Florida, where she met her husband, George Monroe Decker. They married after the Second World War on April 19, 1945; and she and George remained together throughout his career in the Air Force and his retirement until his early death from heart disease on June 7, 1975. They had three children, Frances Louise Decker, Jeanette Gayle (Danny) Eidson, and Gil Mark (Norma) Decker. She is survived by all three of her children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren. She never remarried, saying that she had already had the best and didn't think she could ever get that lucky again.
Hortense Decker worked thousand of hours as a Red Cross Volunteer in various military hospitals, longest at the Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina where she and George were living when he died. She continued to reside in Fayetteville for twenty years, at which time she moved to Springfield, Georgia, to join her daughter Frances. She was an avid bridge player for as long as she could still understand how to play. Gardening was another of her hobbies, despite difficulties, pain and deformities caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. She attended the Springfield United Methodist Church and loved her Bible Study Sunday School Class even as she could no longer attend regular church services. She derived great comfort from her faith and prayed daily as long as she was able to do so.
Mrs. Decker was always a strong woman. During her marriage to a career military husband, she was often alone when George was away on temporary assignment elsewhere. She could be stern when necessary and did not believe in accepting excuses for chores not done or not done well. She remained in contact with many of the families she knew from their military days for decades after they were all transferred to different bases, retired or began different lives. She felt most at home with other military retirees because the military was where she spent so many years.
All three of her children flourished in the supportive family she and her husband provided. There was unconditional love and encouragement that made it possible to enter the world in the confident knowledge that all three were treasured and valued and that any endeavor would receive applause. As long as one did one's best, no more would be required; and there was never disappointment expressed at the outcome as long as the effort was forthcoming. Mr. and Mrs. Decker were there to provide a hand when needed and a warm hug when disappointment inevitably happened. As a couple, they were an example of sacrifice, trust, love and unitya�"which their children have tried to adopt as the foundation of their own marriages and relationships, both personal and professional.
Hortense Decker's funeral services and interment will be held at the National Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina, where her beloved husband lies and where they will be together again. Services will be held on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 11 a.m.
The family would life to thank the nurses and aides at the Effingham Extended Care Facility for their unwavering gentleness and care of their mother for over six years and for their kindness and consideration toward the family during their mother's last days. The family would also like to thank the many friends and church members who visited and asked about her over the years. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Extended Care Facility or to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, where Mrs. Hortense established a memorial for her beloved husband, Lt. Col. George M. Decker.
Riggs Funeral Home Guyton, Georgia
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Raleigh National Cemetery
501 Rock Quarry Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27610
Effingham County Extended Care Facility
459 HIghway 119 South
Springfield, Georgia 31329
Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum
175 Bourne Avenue
Pooler, Georgia 31322