Friday, October 30th 2020   |

Former educator, past Hadassah Chapter president Fran Lake dies

FRANCINE “FRAN’ MENDLER LAKE, a former teacher and principal, a past president of the Greater New Orleans Chapter of Hadassah and a noted Jewish community volunteer for several charities, died early Saturday, October 10, 2020. She was 71.


Mendler, a native of New Orleans, graduated from Fortier High School and received a master’s degree in Education from the University of New Orleans in 1972. She taught special education as well as grades kindergarten through twelfth grades and was the lower school principal of Ridgewood Preparatory School in Metairie.

Fran loved traveling to visit her family and was present for every momentous occasion. She loved playing and winning board and card games and she especially enjoyed cooking, especially with her grandchildren, and experimenting with new recipes.

Fran was president of the New Orleans Chapter of Hadassah and received the local Woman of Valor Award in 2007 and the regional Southern Woman Valor Award in 1997. She was a recipient of the Bernard Mintz Award for her volunteer work by the Anti-Defamation League in 2020 and was awarded the Avodah Partners in Justice Award in 2018.

Lake’s service to the Jewish community extended across many worthy non-profit organizations. She served on the boards of Jewish Family Service (JFS), Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS), the Jewish Community Day School and was a longtime member of Congregation Beth Israel Congregation. She was also a member of Congregation Gates of Prayer and the Greater New Orleans Section of theNational Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). 

She rarely said no when asked to volunteer and her greatest attribute was involving others in her volunteer efforts and projects. Lake particularly loved dining out and was always ready to sample the fare of any new restaurant in the city, no matter the time or day. Friends recall her ability to work with many others and to bring inclusion into any projected in which she was involved.

She is survived by her husband, Jonathan M. Lake, her five daughters, Jennifer Graver (Michael), Lori Ceyhun (Haluk), Erin Friend (Asher), Meredith Petrone (James) and Julia Jacobson (Stephen); her brother Joel Mendler (Toby) ;sisters-in-law Lorraine Lake Williams and Marilyn Lake Neumann and 14 grandchildren.

Further details of the private graveside service have been withheld.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to the New Orleans Chapter of Hadassah; Congregation Gates of Prayer, 4000 W. Esplanade Avenue S., Metairie, LA. 70002; or the charity of your choice.

To view and sign the family guestbook, visit

Share Button