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Toasting Frances Peck

Photo: Travis Shelongosky

After more than 15 years as a partner in West Coast Editorial Associates, Frances Peck is “retiring” from the partnership. The quotation marks here have a double meaning: First, she will continue teaching and training as a WCEA affiliate. And second, we know that retirement for Frances will mean being busier than ever, only with activities like hiking in the backcountry and writing getting a larger proportion of her time.

So although she’s not completely leaving WCEA, we thought we’d celebrate Frances with some tributes from current and retired partners. (Retired partners are indicated with an asterisk.) Best read as toasts, with gin and tonic in hand. And you’ll note a few recurring themes.

Audrey McClellan: Frances has been a trusted source of book and movie recommendations since we joined WCEA together in January 2006. I’m most grateful to her for pointing me to Carolyn Parkhurst’s The Dogs of Babel. The release of a new Parkhurst novel is a not-to-be-missed event for me. Happy reading—and writing—Frances!

Barbara Johnston: When I think of Frances, I think of mountain adventures, G&Ts, and Cape Breton. I have always been in awe of her amazing knowledge of English grammar and top-notch editing and writing talents, but what stands out to me most is her wonderful ability to encourage and mentor students, writers, and colleagues, generously sharing her knowledge and always ready to answer any question without judgment.

Barbara Tomlin*: While Frances’s retirement is an undeniable loss for WCEA, it’s a great gain for me and other friends. Now that she won’t be so busy looking after clients, Frances should have more time for her fiction writing and more time for hiking—and for talking about writing while hiking!

Georgina Montgomery*: When Frances joined WCEA, I marvelled at all she’d done in her past. Then I had the huge pleasure of working with her for nine years and I marvelled at everything she did for work and for play. Whatever her next pursuits, I know my marvelling will continue.

Lana Okerlund: Frances is one of the most generous people I know. She shares her expertise, time, and creativity when they’re wanted, drops off homemade cookies just cuz, is ready to join you for a G&T and a chat when you need a friend, and comes through as a partner and a professional Every Single Time.

Lois Richardson*: Things you might not know about Frances: She has a horror not of horror movies but of “sappy” movies. Her Room 101 would be an endless loop of Steel Magnolias. She loves scary, dangerous roller coasters and other amusement park rides more suited to crazy teenagers. The books in her (huge) personal library are in pristine condition—no bent spines, no folded pages, no underlining, no coffee stains—though she swears she has read them.

Louise Oborne*: Frances’s commitment to the perfect word and evocative phrase is unwavering. Our most memorable conversations, often over a WCEA lunch, were about the creative process, the struggles and shining moments. Frances drove from North Vancouver to Victoria specifically to attend my first art show. A great gift I’ll not forget.

Lucy Kenward: Many words come to mind when I think about Frances: integrity, community, curiosity, thoughtfulness, excellence, fun. But it’s how generous she is with her knowledge, her time, and especially her encouragement that’s shown me how to be a kinder, more confident editor. Frances raises the bar for all of us!

Nancy Flight*: Everyone knows that Frances is a brilliant editor, an accomplished writer, a talented teacher, and a tireless volunteer. But what I find most impressive is her generous championing of others, whether by encouraging their writing, taking the trouble to nominate them for an award, or otherwise offering support. Happy retirement to an incredible woman!

Merrie-Ellen Wilcox: Grammar goddess. Brilliant editor and writer, teacher and mentor. Consummate professional. Generous colleague and friend. When I’m not sure how to proceed with a thorny editorial issue or a client, I ask myself, what would Frances do?—and have often called her to ask, always receiving the perfect answer. Thank you, Frances, for setting every bar so high.

Ruth Wilson: I first met Frances at a convent, of all places! We were both volunteering our time in the early days of planning for Editors Canada certification tests, and our “cells” (bedrooms) were next to each other. Frances had an immediate impact on me with her impressive work. One evening she asked me to review a short column she was writing, managing to do some of her “real work” in the few free hours we had. I don’t think I made one mark on the piece—it was perfect! A few years later, I was asked to sit on the Certification Steering Committee, and the only reason I said yes was because Frances was the chair—so I knew the committee would be productive and led by one of the best. When she made the sensible decision to move to the West Coast, it was a no-brainer to invite her into WCEA. Her contributions have been huge, and she will be missed by all.

Rowena Rae: I heard Frances give a talk about grammar at an Editors Canada conference about 15 years ago. I remember thinking with awe that this woman not only knew her grammar but also knew how to make it interesting and even exciting. Years later, when I was invited to join WCEA, I felt jittery at the thought of becoming one of Frances’s partners; how could I be anywhere close to batting in the same grammar league? Of course my jitters were all groundless nonsense; Frances was welcoming and kind, and she was both humble about her copious grammar knowledge and generous in sharing it. It has been such a pleasure to have spent a few years as one of Frances’s partners.

Yvonne Van Ruskenveld*: One of the delights of my rejoining WCEA was getting to know Frances. A special treat was attending Editors Canada conferences with her in Halifax and Toronto (along with Ruth). Smart, thoughtful, kind, and funny—she’s the perfect business partner and friend.

So here’s to you, Frances, and to a healthy, happy, and productive “retirement.” Santé! Cheers!

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Congratulations, Frances, on a stellar career. You are the best in my mind, and now I won’t hesitate so much in sending you my questions. Hope to see you again soon. Joyce

  2. Frances, many congratulations to you on an absolutely brilliant, stellar career thus far and on your semi-retirement. You’ve been my guru ever since I started as an editor (though you are too young and beautiful for “guru” to seem an appropriate word!). I have benefited enormously from your seminars and from the advice you have always given so generously. And though I didn’t think it was possible, my esteem for you rose still higher when I witnessed your great integrity, courage, and determination in trying to right a wrong. I am raising a glass to you from Saskatchewan and looking forward to seeing where your adventures take you next! I bet soon there will be a Peck bestseller on my shelf…

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