Civic icon to be honored at the school she helped build
TOOL–There is a living legend in Tool and her name is Fran Sonka. Fran is a community builder, a civic leader, a people person and a walking-talking advertisement for Tool. For over 30 years, ‘Miss Fran’ has worked for the good of Tool. Now, the community and school are coming together to say ‘Thank You’ in a way that would mean most to her, a teaching garden at the school she helped build.
In 1991, Sonka left her career at Republic National Bank in Dallas and retired to the lake life of Cedar Creek Lake. She recalls thinking that “Everyone was working, working, working but not living so I retired at 55 determined to LIVE the rest of my years!”
Not one to be idle, Sonka quickly became a part of the Tool community. In 1995, she threw her hat in the ring and her name on the ballot for city council. She was voted in and served in this capacity until 2012. In 1999, at one council meeting the then-mayor walked in and resigned. She laughs when she remembers that, “when the dust settled, I was mayor.” A position she enjoyed for two more years.
In her time serving the community of Tool, Sonka found it hard to accept that the children of Tool were required to spend two hours on a bus each day to attend their Malakoff ISD school. “There was no school on this side of the lake for our kids and I was determined to change that,” said Sonka. When the elementary school in Malakoff burned down, Sonka, then-Mayor Scott Confer and other council members moved quickly to position Tool as the new location for the elementary school.
Tool Elementary School opened its doors for the first time in 2007. “Every morning, when the bus arrived at the school, Sonka was there to greet each student and give them a hug,” say the teachers who watched her repeat this routine every school day until 2020 when COVID brought an end to her public activities. “For some, it may be the only hug they got that day.”
Sonka has done much for this community. As recently as April, you’ve witnessed the hand of Fran up and down Texas Highway 274. While serving on the council, she and a few others would drive the highway throwing wildflower seeds out the window.
When asked her age, Sonka will reply that she is 90 ½ years old, adding emphasis on those extra six months. 90 years old is in her rearview mirror, she’ll say. Now she wants to grow up to be a gardener.