Frances Blackmore Sparzani was born in 1923 in Toronto, the only child of the late Frank and Mona Lee. Her family moved to Vancouver, where Frances attended Prince of Wales High School and Havergal College before entering UBC. At UBC, Blackie was a key member of the Players Club, performing in a number of plays and serving on the club’s Executive Committee, and was a member of Delta Gamma sorority.
Following graduation, she pursued her love of travel by working for firms that offered free trips as a perk. In 1951 she was married in The Little Church Around the Corner in New York City to Aldo Sparzani, an executive with the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) company. Subsequent postings with ITT included Miami, Havana, Caracas, Panama City, and Quito and their travels included virtually every country in South America. There was also an offshore posting to Manila and finally a home posting to Seattle. Blackie had always immersed herself in the local cultures – in Seattle she established a successful import business featuring Latin American crafts.
Upon retirement, she and Al settled in St. Petersburg, FL, and polished their fluency in the Spanish language at nearby Eckerd College, first as adult students and then as mentors and supporters of its Spanish department. They were returning from a function at the latter in the spring of 2013 when they were the victims of a traffic accident. Aldo was seriously injured and Blackie entered a coma lasting six months from which she never recovered.