Frances D. Meeks, 80, artist, dance organizer

April 30, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Frances D. Meeks, an artist and organizer of dances who taught ballroom dancing to several generations of Baltimoreans, died April 8 of cancer at her home in Roland Park Place. She was 80.

She also organized the Entre Nous dances in 1933 at the suggestion of her father, Frank D. Webb, who handled advertising for the Southern Hotel on Light Street.

Tyson Greer Halliday, a daughter who lives in Seattle, said, "She was 19 years old when her father suggested that she organize a dancing group in order to get young people to come back downtown. Even though it was the Depression, the dances were very successful."

"Dancing is the raison d'etre for the Entre Nous dances," said an article in The Sun in 1937.

"And don't think that it is a French organization. It is neither

French nor an organization and with the exception of the mask ball, men appear in white tie and tails [dinner clothes are rare] and girls appear in their best dance frocks," The Sun article said.

"The rule requiring formal dress is rigidly enforced and even out-of-town guests and just-home-for-the-weekend collegians are not excepted."

Entre Nous was founded on the principle that the proceeds raised by the dances would be donated to charity. The first donation of $11.53 in 1933 was made to the Happy Hills Convalescent Home for Children.

The dances moved from the Southern Hotel to the L'Hirondelle Club, then to the Alcazar, the Park Plaza and finally to the Belvedere Hotel. The last dance was held in 1985.

Mrs. Meeks, who chaired the dance committee for 35 years, directed the Entre Nous dancing classes, which began in 1950, and held an annual Entre Nous Pre-Cotillon and Junior Cotillon at the Mount Washington Club.

At one time, more than 700 young people were enrolled in the classes, which, according to Ms. Halliday, ended "in 1970 with the coming of the Beatles."

The former Frances D. "Fanny" Webb was born and reared in Baltimore and was a 1931 graduate of the Roland Park Country School. She made her debut in 1930 at the Bachelors Cotillon.

She continued her education at the Baltimore Business College and after graduating in 1932 went to work for her father, who owned the Frank D. Webb Advertising Co. She wrote advertising copy and sold space. She later was associated with the interior decorating firm of Arthur Grafflin Interiors.

She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art Evening School and the Schular School of Fine Art, and was a student for many years of Frederic "Fritz" Schular Briggs, a Baltimore watercolorist.

In 1938, she married Benjamin W. Meeks Jr., who retired in 1974 as vice president of sales for the John D. Lucas Printing Co. The Meeks lived in Charles Village and Roland Park and spent winters at their home in Sun City Center, Fla. They moved to Roland Park Place several years ago.

Mrs. Meeks was a volunteer at Church Home and Hospital, Keswick Home and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

She was a charter member of the Stoney Run Garden Club and the Roland Park Garden Club. As art editor of Gardenews, a publication of the Garden Clubs of Maryland, she painted cover designs in watercolors of Maryland landmarks.

She was a founding member of the Roland Park Swimming Pool, a neighborhood swimming facility on Lawndale Avenue that had its beginnings on her front porch.

Other survivors include another daughter, Natalie Beall Meeks of Arlington, Va.; a sister, Adrienne Webb Bergstrom of Baltimore; and two grandsons.

Memorial donations may be made to St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., Baltimore 21210, where Mrs. Meeks was a communicant.

Services were held April 16.

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