After 99 years of a life well-lived, Clarence Victor Francis passed away on April 18, 2019. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, April 27th at 12:00 noon at Oak Grove Lutheran Church (7045 Lyndale Ave. S.) in Richfield where Pastor Tom Zarth will preside. Family and friends are invited to a visitation at 11:00 a.m. immediately prior to the service. With his granddaughters and their spouses serving as pallbearers, Clarence will be laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.
Clarence’s life began on January 14, 1920, when Berton and Hattie (Thompson) Francis celebrated the birth of their seventh child. Blessed with three brothers and three sisters, Clarence grew up surrounded with playmates on the family farm in Clear Lake, Wisconsin. As a boy, Clarence was responsible for splitting the wood to heat his family’s home, instilling in him the fierce determination that was a hallmark of his personality throughout his life.
After graduating from Clear Lake High School, Clarence enlisted in the United States Armed Forces, proudly serving in the Army Air Corp (now the Air Force) during WWII. A talented pilot, Clarence was recruited to train newly enlisted members of the Air Corp. As a flight instructor, Clarence remained state side during the war and was honorably discharged in 1946.
While in the military, Clarence’s sister set him up on a date with her best friend – who turned out to be the love of his life. Mary Paulson was a beautiful young woman with a quick smile and they hit it off immediately. After a long courtship via love letters while Clarence was in the service, they exchanged wedding vows at First Lutheran Church in Clear Lake on March 9, 1946. Settling in Menomonie after the war, they were blessed with three children: Connie, Tom and David.
A hard worker who provided a good life for his family, Clarence worked for the Farmer’s Union Co-Op in Menomonie. Later he started an oil delivery business for a co-op in Deerfield. In 1959, the Francis family moved to Minnesota where Clarence was briefly employed as an air traffic controller. He retired as a factory superintendent employed by Philips-Puratronics.
As their kids grew, Clarence and Mary enjoyed taking them camping, fishing and on cross-country family road trips. But the bulk of their time was spent at their cabin on North Sand Lake in Wisconsin. They enjoyed fishing, boating, water skiing and just being on the water. The cabin remains a treasured spot for the whole family.
In retirement, Clarence pursued many hobbies. He was a lifelong fisherman who never let the “big one” get away. He was also a farmer at heart and loved growing fruits and vegetables for his family and friends to enjoy. A skilled woodworker, his art will live on in the beautiful furniture his family will treasure for generations. Clarence and Mary routinely set out on epic roadtrips that crisscrossed the continental United States more times than they could count. They also embarked on many trips abroad, visiting such far-flung destinations as Thailand, Israel, Norway as well as most European countries. Although he had many hobbies, family and faith were always the most important things in his life. Clarence was a loving husband, proud father, and exemplary grandfather and great-grandfather. His greatest joy was spending time with his family and traveling the world with Mary.
Clarence’s life was as wonderful as it was long. He was a man of high standards and always wanted the best for himself and his family. He will be deeply missed by his children, Connie (Gary Ferrando) Francis and Tom (Karen) Francis; granddaughters, Kate (Mike Boerboom) Francis, Alyssa (Peter Dully) Francis and Roxanne (Matthew) Wahl; great-grandchildren, Kieran, Darby, Imogen, Walter, Lucas and Nicklas. Clarence was greeted in Heaven by his wife, Mary Francis; son, David Francis; parents and siblings (Harold, Lloyd, Morris, Mary, Vivian, Muriel, and Ardis).
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