December 18, 2020

Reflecting on 50 Years– Sally D. Francisco’s Children

Susan Francisco

Sally D. Francisco pursued the vision for Peters Valley with determination, energy, and a creative spirit, setting a firm foundation for the organization to grow and become what it is today. We are grateful that we’ve been able to stay in touch with Sally’s children, Susan, Bond, and Doug over the past years. Below, they reflect back on their memories from those earliest days, when Peters Valley was just an idea.

Susan Francisco:


Bond Francisco:

In 1970 I moved out to the West Coast. On those occasions when I was home, I’d take every opportunity to visit Peters Valley. [I] took a weaving course, and wood carving (sculpting!) with Emil Milan. I knew my mother as a force of nature, and am so very proud to her and all she accomplished. I also want to acknowledge the part that our dear father played. I am forever grateful for his role in supporting our mother in her endeavors, as she did his. I went on to support myself all through the 80’s as a street artist making and selling neckties in the SF Bay Area. So I guess some of my mother’s “crafty” genes made their way into my being. So delighted to be still celebrating Peters Valley 50 years later!

Doug Francisco: 

I was at home (being only 15 years old ) for the entire P.V. saga. At home for the ” Elfwood Craft Store ” in our West Orange house in the late 50’s . The entire First Mountain Crafters conception, founding and success in West Orange N.J. Moving to Wantage in Sussex county, the founding and success of the Kittatinny Craftsmen. When the whole debacle of the Tocks Island project revealed itself with the abandonment of all of the Parks service buildings in Bevans, she saw an opportunity to continue her passion for giving artists the vehicle to drive their respective craft skills and teaching contributions towards a much bigger and all encompassing goal. 50 years later the vision she had is vivid and flourishing.

I can remember coming home from school and finding pages and pads of yellow legal paper all over the kitchen table. Names of new contacts, phone numbers of park service go-to’s. The phone receiver still warm from countless calls to prospective donors and craftsmen, anyone who could help. Mom steered the boat, and she got it done. Through all of this she kept a wonderful sense of humor and always had some sort of dinner on the table for us when Dad got home from his long daily commute to New Brunswick. Lots of casseroles.
I volunteered with some nudging here and there at Peters Valley in the early days cleaning bat guano from the floor of what is now Sally D. Francisco gallery ( her first office there), just general clean up. In some magical way she could turn a small annoying request into something you actually wanted to do and felt good about when the task was accomplished. That was her style and I believe the key to her many successes.

The first glimpse of the Peters Valley Success story I had was the first Peters Valley Fair. Emil Milan carving a bird, Andy Wilner turning a table leg on a lath , the hammer and strike of the blacksmith at his craft, weavers weaving , jewelers wire wrapping earrings, all in one place and crowds of people coming to see. All this due to her and her crew.

I am so proud to have been her son and am so happy Peters Valley lives on.

We thank each and every student, teacher, visitor, donor, board member, and volunteer of Peters Valley over the last 50 years for helping steward the mission Sally Francisco set out to fulfill. We truly would not be here without you and your support. If you are able, we hope you consider supporting Peters Valley at year end with a gift of $25, $50, $100 or more as we set the foundation for the next 50 years. Thank you so much for your support.


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