Frances (Oppenheimer) Dresher, longtime Riverhead resident, died at home on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. She was 95 years old.
Born in Greenport, N.Y., on Sept. 4, 1925, she was the daughter of Harry and Sadie (Berg) Oppenheimer.
An almost-lifelong Riverhead resident, Frances grew up on Maple Street, nearby to the family business, Ivan’s Shoes on Railroad Avenue, which opened in 1921. She was a graduate of Riverhead High School, where she was a member of the Key Club and the marching band. After high school, she left for a brief period to live in New York City while performing secretarial work during World War II. Although she was warmly welcomed by extended family in the Bronx, Riverhead was her true home. After another brief stint in Utica, she returned to settle in Riverhead as a new bride.
Frances met her husband, Herbert Dresher, at age 17, when she attended a USO holiday party at Camp Upton at the insistence of her mother. Mrs. Oppenheimer invited Pvt. Dresher to dinner, where her daughter rebuffed his advances. It wasn’t until five years later, when Dresher, back in civilian life, wrote to Frances’ parents, recalling the lovely meal and asking about their daughter, that the two would meet again.
In January 1947, Herb and Frances met under the Astor Clock in New York City for their first date. They were engaged that July and married on Oct. 12 — the first couple to make their vows at Riverhead’s Temple Israel, where they were active members over their 68 years of marriage.
Once resettled in Riverhead, Frances and Herb joined the family business, which they took over formally in the 1950s. By the time they retired in 2003, the store had been a Riverhead staple for over 75 years and hosted illustrious customers, including Elmo and the folks at Sesame Street.
Frances was an avid mahjong player, a voracious reader and an active participant in civic life. She loved to travel, particularly to Barbados, and — even decades later — recalled with fondness the two trips she and Herb made to Paris.
Isolation during COVID-19 was extremely difficult for Frances, but she was determined to keep fighting and make a difference in the course of history. In November 2020, she was fiercely proud to cast her ballot for America’s first woman vice president. Even in her final days, she asked to read the news, which she felt strongly heralded a more hopeful future for her great-grandchildren. Indeed, more than anything, Frances loved her family, who served as her cornerstone all her life.
Frances was preceded in death by Herb, her loving husband; her sister, Betty Merkin; and her daughter Barbara. She is survived by her daughters Laurie Salvucci of South Dennis, Mass., and Deborah (Glenn) Weinberg of Apex, N.C.; her grandchildren, Jennifer (Keith) Bent of Westford, Mass., Megan (Justin) Klotsche of Hopkinton, Mass., Ben Weinberg of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sarah Weinberg of New York, N.Y.; and her great-grandchildren, Alexandra and Charlotte Bent and Jackson, Boden, Tate and Parker Klotsche.
In deference to COVID-19, the family will have a private graveside service at Agudath Achim Cemetery in East Setauket. When it is safe to do so, the family looks forward to a celebration of life at some of her favorite Riverhead businesses, including Papa Nick’s and the Riverhead diner, where the staff were her beloved friends.
Memorial donations may be made to the Boston Children‘s Hospital Trust.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of I.J. Morris Funeral Home in Dix Hills.
This is a paid notice.