Goretti Fannellia Frank-Fontenot was born on July 29th, 1958 in Opelousas, LA to Nathan T “Bud” Frank and Irma Mae Comeaux Frank. She was the youngest sibling of two children (Jacinta Frank, Kinston, NC). She was educated in Opelousas Catholic and Holy Ghost Catholic School (Opelousas). She graduated and received her Master’s Degree from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA.
She returned to teach elementary school at Opelousas Catholic and then she joined the Federal Detention Center in Oakdale Louisiana, Three Rivers Texas, and from Texas to Brooklyn, NY, Fort Dix, NJ, and finally in FDC Philadelphia, PA. She worked as a teacher in the prison system as an educator for inmates. She took great pride in assisting female inmates in obtaining an education that would enable them to re-enter the workforce.
In 2008 she became an active of St. James Christian Church in Sicklerville, NJ. Goretti loved the Lord and held a leadership role in the Women’s Fellowship and Youth Ministry. Nell loved her church and participated in many activities with the church family such as the Women’s Fellowship and the Youth Ministry.
Being a mother was the most important role she had in her life. She was first and foremost a loving, caring and devoted mother to two daughters to Kori and Karli. She and Kori were like two peas in a pod. You rarely saw Goretti without Kori close by. The relationship they shared was one of true adoration for each other. Goretti extended her love to members of the community and countless other adopted children from all aspects of life. From the bowling team to the members of the Winslow Township Marching Band, to Kori’s college family, the St. James church family, the FDC work family and countless others — everyone looked forward to her smiling face, Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffee and her world famous banana pudding. Food was one of the many ways that Nell expressed her love for those she surrounded herself with. The kitchen was her sanctuary! No one was allowed in there without her express permission.
She also loved her sister Cindy with all of her heart. The connection they have for each other is beyond unconditional. From the days of growing up together in Opelousas to growing into women with families of their own- they never let the miles that separated them keep them from the bond of sisterhood.
Nell lived life to the fullest and enjoyed being surrounded by friends and family. Outside of cooking, her next favorite hobby was shopping! On any given weekend, you could catch her at the local shopping outlet and flea markets getting more shoes to go with that new outfit. She could out shop the best of them.
She is survived by her loving daughter Kori (Karshena) Fontenot who took care of her during her long illness, (future son-in-law, Chris Merce), her sister Cindy (Jacinta) Frank, her traveling companion and care provider, Cynthia Bizzelle, an adopted daughter, Marshelle Hightower and adopted grandchildren, Brandon and Ryan Hightower, an adopted “Mom”, Patricia Darden and grandson, Dexter Darden, adopted sister Jessica Williams, extended family Monte and Deb Harris and their daughter Shanice, her special friend, Andre Richards, who brought her much happiness for over 30 years, and who took care of her when she was at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta, a host of nieces and nephews, cousins, Pastor and St. James church family and friends.