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Carlton Senior Living Blog | June 13, 2021 | By Denee Coleman

Fran DeGaetano & The Tale of Princess Peppercorn

Fran DeGaetano of Carlton Senior Living San LeandroFrances was born in Ocala, Florida and was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her father worked for the ACL train line. After graduating from high school, Fran went to New York for a fashion and modeling class. As a student of the modeling class, she was given a room to rent on Long Island but spent her days in New York City.

Fran says she quickly learned that modeling was not what she wanted to do. She says that in those days, models were not respected or treated well. She found a job in New York with a management group where she worked as a clothing buyer supplying large department stores. When retail buyers came to New York, she took them on buying trips.

Fran met her future husband in New York. One day her coworker informed her that there was a call for her When Fran answered, it was her future husband. They became friends and eventually married. Fran and her husband have four sons.

After her husband passed, she moved to Carlton San Leandro to be near her oldest son who lives five blocks away. Fran has nineteen grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and her little dog Pepper.

Fran loves her apartment at Carlton San Leandro She is happy that she doesn’t have to cook, clean or do laundry. Fran says living in the community has been good.

The Tale of Princess Peppercorn

Pepper is Fran DeGaetano’s sweet Shih Tzu and Poodle dog. The DeGaetano Family has nicknamed her Princess Peppercorn. Pepper was found abandoned in the neighborhood of Fran’s son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Barbara. Barbara approached Pepper who immediately ran toward her. Pepper allowed Barbara to take her home, wash, feed and care for her.

When Richard and Barbara took Pepper to visit Fran, Pepper fell in love with her. Fran’s husband had passed away shortly prior to this time and Richard believes that the meeting of Fran and Pepper was serendipitous. The two formed an instant bond. During this time, Barbara says she noticed Pepper’s belly was getting bigger so she took Pepper to the veterinarian who determined she was pregnant. Pepper eventually had four puppies although only two survived.

Barbara was working while trying to care for Pepper and the puppies which became a monumental job. She asked Fran if she would like to care for Pepper and her puppies. Fran loves animals but had never been a dog person. However, Fran jumped at the opportunity to provide care to the mother and her pups.

Shortly after Fran moved to Carlton, the COVID-19 pandemic added complexity to the care arrangements for Pepper and she remained with Richard and Barbara for some time. The separation was challenging for both Fran and Pepper but we’re happy to report they’re together again. Richard and Barbara continue to care for Pepper during the evening and night with Fran and Pepper spending their days together.

Pepper can be found walking in the courtyard with Fran, watching TV, or riding atop Fran’s walker as they stroll through the community. She loves the opportunity for residents and staff to show her some love. Pepper is the Love Ambassador at Carlton San Leandro and eagerly welcomes everyone to each new day.

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