Poage for the Holidays: Frances Poage, The Great Lady

The holiday season is upon us here at the W.R. Poage Legislative Library, and we’d like to wish you all hearty season’s greetings. As the semester winds down, many of our staff are looking forward to spending some quality time with their families over the winter break. In that spirit, we’ve decided to look at the woman who was nearest and dearest to our namesake: Mrs. Frances Poage.

Portrait of Frances Poage
Portrait of Frances Poage

Frances Cotton first met W.R. Poage when he was a member of the Texas state senate. She worked in the state comptroller’s office and was a boarder at the same house as Mr. Poage, which is how their relationship began. The two began taking trips to various sites in Texas, though Bob would eventually realize that Frances didn’t care for the long drives such journeys entailed. She did, however, enjoy the company. The two married in on Valentine’s Day 1938, and Frances became Mr. Poage’s “chief inspiration and companion” thereafter.

From left to right: Congressman W.R. "Bob" Poage, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, President Jimmy Carter, and Mrs. Frances Poage
From left to right: Congressman W.R. “Bob” Poage, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, President Jimmy Carter, and Mrs. Frances Poage

Mrs. Poage was afflicted with numerous ailments over her life. As a child, a country doctor removed her appendix on her family’s kitchen table, leaving her with painful side effects. In her later years, she suffered from severe arthritis. Furthermore, she had stomach problems, arterial issues, and complications from a broken leg. Despite these maladies, Frances was an invaluable, beloved partner to the Congressman. She remembered names and faces that he could not and tried to help people everywhere she went and had, by the Congressman’s estimation, impeccable taste. Furthermore, she took a keen interest in politics and was very much involved in Congressman Poage’s campaigns and always ready to lend a hand in the office. Frances enjoyed playing hostess to the couple’s friends and family. Despite never having children of their own, Frances and the Congressman maintained their affection for one another, having “a minimum of quarrels and a full measure of love” throughout their lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Poage (at rear of table) at a Congressional dinner.
Mr. and Mrs. Poage (at rear of table) at an event banquet.

After her passing, Poage expressed regret that he had not been as attentive to her as she to him:

I loved my wife and I know she loved me. Only now do I see so many things which I should have done for her, but did not. I would call on all my younger friends to do all you can for your husband or your wife while you can. You will be well rewarded for it.

The esteemed couple’s romance is one of the more touching love stories in Texas politics; many who knew the pair remarked on their chemistry and genuine affection for one another. This holiday season, as you spend time with your friends and families, we hope you remember Mr. and Mrs. Poage and the love they shared. This year, set aside petty squabbles and come together with those you care about to celebrate your own reasons for the season.

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