Former People Newspapers Society Editor Francis Agness Foster Robertson passed away at the age of 106 on October 16, 2023.Read more
From 1987 until 2002, Agness and her late husband Tom covered a flurry of social and philanthropic events for Park Cities People. The unassuming pair were sought-after guests from morning to midnight for Dallas’ most elite parties and events. As beloved staff members, they frequented the People Newspaper offices for Agness to turn in her weekly column, for Tom to develop his own film from the most recent events, and to attend the weekly staff meeting to discuss the newspaper’s latest edition and what was next on the society calendar.
A typical day might begin with a breakfast at Brook Hollow Golf Club, by mid-day they would be off to a seated luncheon for the Crystal Charity Ball at Neiman-Marcus downtown, then pop into a cocktail party in a private home in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League or the Dallas Opera. Book signings, Academy Award watching parties, happenings at SMU, and the presentation of Idlewild Debutantes made their way onto the pages of People Newspapers because of Agness and Tom.
Francis Agness Foster was born on May 14, 1917 in Canton, Texas, to Velma Bolin and Tate Ross Foster.
Thomas Pasche Robertson, a recent graduate of The University of Texas, was working in the computer section of the Federal Land Bank in Houston when he spied the petite blonde in the secretarial pool. They married in Shreveport, Louisiana, on March 24, 1941, and celebrated 65 years of marriage before he passed away in 2006. Their son, Ross, was born in 1941, and their daughter, Heather, in 1945.
Tom worked briefly for Lockheed Aircraft in Oklahoma City during World War II. The couple moved to Dallas in 1946 when Tom signed on to work with a new airline–Braniff International Airways. Preston Hollow was mostly cornfields when Tom bought a lot in the Royalton edition in 1948, and four years later, they built a home there to his specifications. During those years, Tom spent much of his life in Washington, D.C., working on winning routes to Hawaii and London, while Agness cared for their children in Dallas. This wife and homemaker enjoyed playing bridge, participating in garden club, and spending time with her circle of beloved friends. She was a voracious reader and an avid theatre and movie-goer.
“When Tom retired as VP of Braniff Int’l. in 1980,” Agness wrote in her first column for the May 14, 1987 edition of Park Cities People, “I envisioned a life of leisure – a stroll up the street to the shopping village theatre, visits with neighbors, more time for grandkids, etc., etc.
But almost immediately, Tom started on his second career, as a photographer. Then later Reid Slaughter came to us and asked Tom to join Park Cities People. With the heavy load of assignments and the area going bonkers with new ‘annual’ balls and galas blossoming almost monthly, something had to give – I gave up cooking!”
“Our 35 years with Braniff gave us many trips, short and long – a one-day up and back to New York to see a new play, a long weekend in London to cram in as many plays as humanly possible; all that has gone by the wayside, with our busy schedule!”
Founding publisher Reid Slaughter asked Agness to join Tom in May of 1987 as an interim society editor but soon offered her the job permanently.
“They really were so charming,” Slaughter told Holly Mullen for an article in the Dallas Observer in October 1996. “Our goal was to get every man, woman, and child in the Park Cities in a picture in our paper at least once a year. I think with Tom and Agness, we came close.”
As her eyesight began to decline in 2001, Agness used her column to promote a gala for the ophthalmology department of UT Southwestern to fund research.
When she set down her pen and Tom hung up his camera in June of 2002, Park Cities People hosted a send-off party with over 200 guests in attendance. The newspaper celebrated Agness on her 97th Birthday in 2014. For her 100th Birthday, it was clear Agness was still an adored member of society as former coworkers and big names gathered to honor her.
Agness is preceded in death by her daughter, Heather Kinnowr, and her husband, Tom. She is survived by her son Ross and his wife, Sara; four grandchildren – Daniel Robertson and his wife, Katie; April Moss, Robb Moss and his wife, Aleksandra; and Rebecca Hobson and her husband, Clay; and five great-grandchildren – Evie and Allie Robertson, Konrad and Sebastian Moss, and Zoë Hobson.
The family would like to sincerely thank Manchester Home Care and Precise Hospice for the exceptional care provided during her last years.
A memorial service will be held on November 11, 2023, at 2 p.m. at Sparkman Hillcrest Chapel on Northwest Highway in Dallas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to a charity of choice.
“For over 20 years if she and her late husband, the photographer Tom Robertson, didn’t show up at your party, for all intents and purposes it didn’t happen,” Elizabeth Ygartua wrote in 2014. “Thank you, Agness, for all your wonderful years of bringing parties to life for our readers.”