She was born Frances Grace Arnholtz in Boise, Idaho in 1915. She adored her father, Frederick Arnholtz, a building contractor and architect, tagging along with him on his job sites from the time she was three years old. Her mother (name unknown) died when Frances was young and her father had jobs all over the Pacific Northwest, so her “family” was the construction workers who taught her all she would ever need to know about building her “dream house” someday.
She attended eighteen different grade schools and at age twelve she was enrolled in the Girl’s Polytechnic School in Portland, Oregon. In two years she completed her high school education, graduating in 1929 at age fourteen. In 1932, at the age of seventeen, she married Herbert Bateson who was an electrical engineer – at least by training. For some reason, Bert never seemed to work very much or just had odd jobs here and there, so Frances was forced to work to support their family (they had at least two children).