Mourning the loss of Bread & Roses co-founder Molly Frantz

Person looking at the camera, outdoors

Molly Frantz passed away on April 25 at age 75.

We are very sad to announce the passing of Molly Frantz, a co-founder of Bread & Roses who remained active and dedicated to the organization throughout her life. She was a wonderful person, extraordinarily independent and thoroughly committed to the issues of racial and economic justice at the heart of Bread & Roses.

Molly grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from Rosemont College in 1964. She received a Master’s in Social Work from Bryn Mawr College in 1970.

In the early 1970s, Molly joined with a small group of people in Philadelphia who wanted to create an alternative to the United Way that would fund a new generation of groups focusing on racial and economic justice, anti-war efforts, and other community organizing work. They founded The People’s Fund in 1971 and became Bread & Roses Community Fund in 1977.

Two people indoors laughing together

Molly Frantz (right) with Lenore Cooney at the first office of the People’s Fund at 13th and Sansom.

Molly’s impact at Bread & Roses is profound. Over the decades, she consistently pushed for a focus on racial and economic justice and a preference for funding new, small, community-based groups. She helped create Bread & Roses’ culture of consensus, encouraging people to work with one another to figure out how the organization would be shaped.

Molly enthusiastically served on committees and on the board of directors, showed up for events, and sustained her commitment for more than 40 years. She was also very supportive of each of the executive directors and she acted as an informal mentor to emerging leaders within the organization.

“Molly had a no nonsense demeanor and a generous heart,” says Casey Cook, executive director. “She always spoke her truth. She believed that a better, more just world was within reach. None of us would be at Bread & Roses without her.”

Black and white photo of four people standing and smiling

At a Tribute to Change event during the 1980s. From left to right, Steve Gold, Harvey Finkle, Molly Frantz, and Richard Baron.

Richard Baron, another co-founder of Bread & Roses, remembers Molly as “the nicest person most of us ever got to meet.”  He recalls her as an “intelligent, practical, pleasant partner to the people she worked with, and always interested in what other people had to say, but very clear about her own opinions and ambitions.”

Molly spent her career advocating for patients’ rights within the mental and behavioral health systems. In her private life, she enjoyed spending time with her devoted friends and family, going to the theater, and traveling all over the world.

Person sitting in a dark room looking down at paper

Molly Frantz in the early years of Bread & Roses

We invite you to share your remembrances of Molly in the comments section below — click on “Leave a reply.” We will be compiling these remembrances to share them with Molly’s family. Thank you for taking time to celebrate and honor Molly with us.

7 thoughts on “Mourning the loss of Bread & Roses co-founder Molly Frantz

  1. Rebecca Subar

    Oh, no! Was my reaction. Molly is so alive; she was so alive. Molly made real connection with fellow activists of all ages. She, was eager to learn what was new in social justice, even as a founder and veteran of our causes. I’m so sorry she is gone. What a lovely, clear, direct, friendly and committed soul.

  2. Jeff Hornstein

    What a sad day for Philadelphia… Molly was a great mentor and friend to many of us as we were coming up in the Bread & Roses family. Let’s continue the struggle in her memory!

  3. mary pat kane

    more later, i am still too upset to write, i found out very late that she was sick at all. your tribute means a lot and the photos are gorgeous! i never saw her with longer hair, wonderful. we were graduate school friends and stayed close forever until the last few years when we lost touch so i only knew when she was already in the hospital. very very sad. so sorry for you all.

  4. Nan Langen Steketee

    Molly, it was wonderful being your co-conspirator and fellow traveler for a time on the journey for truth and justice. Your hard work, consistent dedication, and refusal to take the spot light were an inspiration to all of us. The important thing for you was always to find the right path and to follow it with grace. Good-bye, dear Molly, you led the good life. And you leave behind people with love and respect for all you stood for. Thank you.

  5. JoAnne Fischer

    Molly was a woman of great integrity and commitment. She was a few years ahead of me at Bryn Mawr and introduced me to the Peoples Fund. In recent years I saw her as the thread between older and younger activists weaving the Bread and Roses tapestry. I will miss her.

  6. Marianne Roche

    Rick Barron said it well…Molly Frantz was one on the nicest and best people that any of us will ever know. I had the good fortune to work for Molly during her tenure as Director of Behavioral Health / Developmental Disabilities in Montgomery County. There was not a day that she didn’t work hard and well. She had high standards and was fair, just and compassionate. Molly had more equanimity than anyone I have ever known. And everyone respected her immensely. May she rest in peace, knowing what a great impact she made on so many people.

  7. Richard Baron

    Molly was one of those rare people liked by just about everyone who met her, greatly respected by a wide range of people not only in the Bread and Roses network she helped to sustain for years and years but also in the community mental health world where she was a fierce advocate for consumer empowerment, and a sought after co-conspirator for anyone who shared her enthusiasms for music, and theater, and travel and more. She was thoughtful, well-read, energetic, full of laughter, and remarkably calm in the face of more high-strung people like myself. I never heard her say anything more critical of someone than, ‘oh my,’ and yet her opinions on social justice issues and individual rights were unyielding: we were all in this together. If you are looking for a model of a life truly well lived – full of strong ideals and close friends, terrific adventures and hard work – Molly would be the gold standard. We were all lucky to know her. Bread and Roses benefitted enormously from her enthusiasm for its work, and we all share the responsibility of seeing her dreams made real in the years ahead.


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