Frances Bea Koontz, “Bea” was born to Frances & Marvin Koontz in 1952. Their new baby girl was all they had hoped for. Within months, however, there was a realization that she was not progressing normally. It was soon determined that their precious daughter was deaf. Her loving parents immediately set out to find the best resources to help Bea, but there was not much help available for her within Central Florida. Her parents, particularly her mother, poured her life into Bea. She did extensive research on the resources available to deaf children in the area and created resources where she found none. She was integral in the development of many services for the deaf found in the region and state today.
At her mother’s direction, Bea became a proficient lip reader and excelled at her school work. She enjoyed dancing, bike riding, hanging out with her best friend and going to the beach. Leading a seemingly normal life, she graduated from high school and went on to study at Furman University.
But slowly her challenges began to expand and it was discovered that her deafness was caused by a congenital, degenerative brain disorder. It was slow in development, but the signs were there. She required more services as time progressed. While the family was very private about Bea’s medical condition, the search for a cure or solution for their beloved daughter was endless. They traveled near and far searching for answers to help combat the effects of the disease. Unfortunately, and ever so slowly, Bea began to succumb to the effects of the disease.
Bea sadly passed away at the young age of 40. She left behind two very special and loving parents who had given all they could to make her life fulfilling. They had sought care for her wherever it could be found, but the truth was that Bea’s issues were beyond anything that medicine could provide.
Just three months after Bea’s death, her father, Marvin, suddenly and unexpectedly died following a brief illness.
Bea’s mother, Frances, lived on to just days short of her 101st birthday, but not a day went by that she didn’t think of her precious Bea. Knowing the struggles that families have in caring for a child with a complex illness inspired Frances to leave her estate to helping children with similar circumstances.