In Memory of




Obituary for Frances Ehlenfeldt (McGhee)

Frances McGhee Ehlenfeldt, 97, of Salem, Virginia, died on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Frances was born on March 12, 1923, in Belfry, Kentucky. She was one of the youngest of 12 children and was preceded in death by her parents, John and Lelia McGhee; her husband, Karl F. Ehlenfeldt; and her brothers and sisters.
Her parents moved to Salem during the Great Depression when she was six years old in hopes of a better future for the family. She grew up in Salem and graduated from Andrew Lewis High School. She was known to some as “Hook”, a nickname she apparently got in school because guys were drawn to her. She graduated from National Business College and worked in the Trust Department at Colonial American Bank. She married Karl F. Ehlenfeldt, who was a District Manager with Shell Oil Company in Roanoke, and they were transferred to Iowa and later New Jersey. While in New Jersey, she was blessed with two wonderful daughters.
Frances and Karl moved to Miami Beach, Florida for a warmer climate. They lived there for several years enjoying the beach and their boat “The FRA-LI-DA”, named after Frances, Lisa, and Dawn. Karl passed away there, and Frances moved back to Salem in 1973 to be with her family. She made her life around family and tried to be a model single parent during the 1970s when few children grew up with one parent. She led a simple life – raising her daughters, attending family reunions, feeding birds, listening to music, and making photo albums. She read voraciously, finding interest and insight in history about U.S. Presidents and Generals. In her life, she developed a strong sense of determination and frugality and yet had a big heart that inspired others. She was a member of First United Methodist Church in Salem and the Athenian Club of Roanoke.
She is survived by her daughters, Lisa Ehlenfeldt Cable, and Dawn Deborah Ehlenfeldt, and numerous nieces and nephews. Lisa and Dawn would like to thank the staff at Snyder’s Nursing Home for their loving care and the tremendous support they provided their mother over the last three years.
A funeral service to celebrate her life will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Friday, September 18, 2020, at the John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Everett Kier officiating. Burial will follow at Sherwood Memorial Park in Salem.
Friends may visit with the family on Friday from 1 p.m. until the service hour at the funeral home.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at