As Women’s History Month 2022 ends, a coincidental donation of a woman’s American Legion uniform brought to light the story of its original owner, Frances Brownlow. We found her story of military and lifelong community service inspiring, especially with today’s world events.
Francis Gulick was born in Perkasie in 1916, the great-granddaughter of J.G. Moyer owner of the coal and lumber business at Seventh and Market Streets. Frances went on to earn her nursing degree at Hahnemann Hospital and enlisted in the Army as a nurse during World War II. Serving as an operating room supervisor, she earned the rank of lieutenant.
After the war, Frances moved back to Perkasie and with her husband, James Brownlow, started Perkasie Cleaners on Seventh Street near Park Avenue. While her husband was away on military duty, Frances ran the business with their partner Mr. James White. The Brownlow’s were parents of a son and a daughter. Frances stayed involved in the community, serving as a deacon at St Stephen’s Church and as a member of the American Legion, Women’s Club and the PTA.
Beginning in 1962, Frances Brownlow was the Pennridge High School nurse. She was always willing to listen to the students concerns and give them advice. During football season, she would be at the games as the team nurse. Frances also volunteered with the Perkasie Ambulance. Her granddaughter remembers as a child going on calls with her grandmother.
In 1985, Frances retired as a school nurse. Having performed in plays with The Dutch Country Players and in performances at the Cock & Bull Dinner Theater in Lahaska, Frances pursued acting professionally. Contracting with the Cathy Parker Agency of New York she appeared in numerous commercials and in the movie, “The Lemon Sisters.”
In 1992, at the age of 75, Frances was elected as a second ward councilwoman for the Borough of Perkasie. Due to illness, she resigned her council position after a few months of service. Frances Brownlow passed away in 1996 and is buried at St Stephens Cemetery in Perkasie. Her American Legion uniform (from Perkasie Uniform Company) will be on display at Perkasie Historical Society Museum as part of our “World War II” display on May 21st and 22nd as well as during the “Uniforms of Perkasie” display in June and July.
Rick Doll 2022
Sharing interesting connections between Perkasie's people, places and events.