Frances H. Alden, a former teacher and businesswoman, died Monday of lung cancer at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. She was 85.

The daughter of Ernest Hussey and Minnie Middleton Hussey, Frances Gray Hussey was born in Warsaw, N.C. Her father died when she was 6 weeks old, and her mother became the librarian at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where Mrs. Alden grew up.

During World War II, she met Richard R. Alden at a dance the college held for servicemen the night before he was deployed overseas, and during the war, the couple wrote each other.

Mrs. Alden earned a bachelor's degree in 1949 in psychology from the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, now UNC Greensboro.

The couple's paths took different directions after the war, and years later, Mr. Alden, who was working as a sales agent and living in Baltimore, was in Greensboro on business. He made a call on his future mother-in-law, who encouraged him to call her daughter.

They rekindled their love affair, married in 1961 and settled in Baltimore.

The couple were longtime communicants of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, where Mrs. Alden was the first woman elected to the vestry. From 1963 to 1978, she directed the preschool.

Mrs. Alden returned to college and earned a master's degree in early childhood education from what is now Towson University. She later headed the psychology department during the late 1970s and 1980s at what was then Villa Julie College.

She left the college and started a gift basket business with two friends. After they withdrew, her husband joined her in the business, which they renamed Basket Case Inc.

The former residents of the Hampton neighborhood of Baltimore County moved to Broadmead in 2006. They were world travelers.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at her church, Carrollton and Boyce avenues, Ruxton.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Alden is survived by a daughter, Gray Gallagher of Malvern, Pa.; a stepdaughter, Lisa Boswell of Baltimore; a granddaughter; and two great-grandsons.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com