Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Frances Tyson

Frances Tyson


Honored June, 1993

Frances Tyson

It's hard to be an honest environmentalist. Every time you flip a light switch at home, you're part of the problem. Frances Tyson is part of the solution. She lobbies tirelessly in environmental issues, and she does so from an energy efficient house.

Born in Kentucky in 1912, Frances graduated from Vassar College in 1934 with a degree in economics. In 1975, when her husband, MIT scientist and chemical engineer Wesley Tyson, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she moved with him to Santa Fe, to be closer to her family. This move opened the doorway to her future as an environmental activist.

Wesley's illness kept the couple out of their customary "social stuff, like bridge," she recalls. "So I got into what I was interested in."

What interested Frances was saving energy. In Santa Fe, she first built a solar greenhouse. After her husband's death, she moved to Las Vegas and constructed an energy-efficient house of her own design. Using a wind generator and photovoltaics, she built a home that gets heat and light from natural, renewable sources. One of her great pleasures is giving people tours of her house to show them how an environmentally conscious home can operate. Frances's career as an environmentalist took off when she attended a conference of the New Mexico Solar Energy Group at Ghost Ranch. "There I was, with all these thirty year olds," she remembers.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes