George J. Francis, 90, of Grosse Pointe Farms, died peacefully Saturday, March 19, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1932, George moved with his proud, Lebanese immigrant parents and siblings to the east side of Detroit in the mid-1930s. Growing up one of six children, George learned early the importance of hard work and a good education, including taking two buses to attend Detroit Catholic Central High School on the west side of Detroit, graduating in 1949.
Shortly after, George enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950, where he spent the next four years stationed in Europe and California, working his way up to staff sergeant. He earned an honorable discharge in 1954, after obtaining a National Defense Service Medal and a Medal for Good Conduct. After a brief stint working in Cincinnati, George found his way back to Detroit. In 1959, he got an entry-level job in the mailroom at Michigan Consolidated Gas Company. Being naturally analytical, along with his hard work and determination to provide a better life for his family, he quickly moved to data management where he contributed to the company's technological transformation from paper to mainframe, to personal computers and servers. He was the manager of information systems when he retired in 1994, after 35 years of service.
In one chance moment, a humble George met his one and only, Ellen MacDonald, a student-nurse at Providence Hospital School of Nursing, while standing up in his brother's wedding in 1960. George and Ellen married in 1961, and with a mutual belief in the beauty of a large family, were blessed with 10 children over the next 14 years. George's unyielding dedication to family, fatherhood, faith and friends helped him develop a true commitment to his community in East Detroit, serving as a youth sports coach, member of the St. Veronica School Board and St. Veronica Men's Club, and active parishioner at St. Veronica Catholic Church, where his children attended school. His lifelong passion for sports included years bowling in the Knights of Columbus Leo the XIII bowling league with friends, as well as an almost perfect attendance record at his many children's sporting events throughout their years at Notre Dame and Regina high schools. George also had a deep affection for the sports teams at the University of Michigan and spent numerous weekends cheering on the Wolverines.
George was meticulous in how he cared for the landscaping around his house, refusing to let anyone else cut his lawn until his later years. One of his other joys was getting up early Saturday mornings in the summer, scrambling a few dozen eggs, sizzling a couple pounds of crispy bacon and preparing French toast before cleaning and vacuuming his swimming pool so his children could enjoy it for the weekend. In his later years, George found vast enjoyment watching his children and 31 grandchildren find their own pathways in life. Fueled by his tremendous work ethic and desire to give back, George spent 20 years in retirement volunteering at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe (formerly Bon Secours Hospital). He also loved expressing his passions through social media posts about great music and decadent chocolate desserts. George was a humble, gentle, selfless, loving man who will be dearly missed by all who had the fortune of knowing him.
George is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Ellen; sons, Dr. Peter (Dawn), Dan (Jessica), John (Kim) and Joseph (Kelly); daughters, Debra Francis, Lisa Ayrault (Terry), Mary Kay Francis (John Jones), Ann Louise "Snip" Francis (Melanie Gilbert), Kristen Taylor (Bob) and Maureen "Mo" Krieter (Chad); 31 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. George also is survived by his brother, John (Nora); sisters-in-law, Rose Fischer and Sue Francis; brother-in-law, Bernard MacDonald (Carol); and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Rahmy, as well as his siblings, Joseph, Mary (Kouri), Louise (Brady) and Richard.
In keeping with the lifelong efforts of George to help those in need, memorial contributions in his honor may be made to The Capuchins, thecapuchins.org/.
Visitation takes place from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 27, and Monday, March 28, at Chas. Verheyden Inc., 16300 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park. He will lie in state Tuesday, March 29, from 11:30 a.m.until the time of his funeral Mass at noon at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 22412 Overlake, St Clair Shores. A livestream will be available on St Joan of Arc's Facebook Page and the livestream page of the parish website (livestream.stjoan.church).
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15 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
George was a wonderful volunteer for us for many years. His warm smile and kind spirit was contagious. I enjoyed our conversations whenever he stopped by to visit our office. He made a positive difference in the hospital and was loved by us all.
Betsy Schulte, Director of Volunteers for Beaumont, Grosse Pointe
I loved working with George at Michcon in the IC. He was great and will be missed by all.
I am so sorry to hear of Georg’s passing. Many fond memories come to mind while working with him at the Gas Company years ago. He was always a joy to be around and treated me like I was his little brother. He will be missed by all who knew him. Our sincere sympathy to his beautiful, loving family.
Max and Darlene Patrick
I am so sorry for your loss and so happy that I was able to meet and spend time with “Mr.Francis” as he volunteered at Beaumont Grosse Pointe. He always had a smile on his face and expressed such joy in his comments about his children and grandkids and in his service for others no matter what was asked of him, or what challenges others had in their work life. He was a true Gem of a human being. I am blessed to have experienced him. Wishing you all peace.
Jeanne Lewandowski, MD
He was a sweet Man I went to school with one of his children Dan, Your Dad will be missed, My prayers are with you all at this time, my condolences to you all.
Mr. Francis’s granddaughter Leah is one of my best friends. I will never forget one Christmas Eve when I was invited to attend the Francis Family Party. Gidu, as they all affectionately call him, was so welcoming and kind. He was the life of the party that night. I will never forget the smile on his face as all of his loved ones were gathered in one place and the genuine interest he showed in the lives of his granddaughter and her friends. Wishing the entire Francis Family peace and comfort during this difficult time!
Prayers for George’s Family. I worked with George at MichCon, one of the kindest individuals to know. Rest In Peace George, May The Lord Shed His Perpetual Light Upon You.
There are very few people in this world we can look up to and admire, George is one of the few, will be missed but always remembered fondly. Greg and Sherry Solomon
I remember seeing George and Ellen at St. Philomena's - He would attend with his son and daugters and their kids (Terry and Lisa and ??? I can't remember all of his kids' names!) He was the most kind, gracious, loving man I ever knew. And he would always give credit to Ellen. I know he's in heaven talking to Jesus now and praying for Ellen and his 41 grandkids. Paul L
On behalf of the Capuchin brothers I offer my deepest sympathies on the passing of George. It is truly humbling to receive memorial donations in honor of his life. Please be assured of the brother's prayers for the entire Francis family during this great time of grief. May perpetual light shine upon George.
Ellen and family: so sorry for your loss. I know this humble loving family man is with his Lord having a reunion with so many who have gone before him. His legacy to me was that of a wise mentor and friend at Michcon. He was a man who put his wife on a pedestal and his family in his treasure. I have many fond memories of him as so many will.
Praying for God`s grace and healing to encompass all of you .
Bobby G Geromette
Dear Francis Family,
Our deepest condolences to all of you. We are sorry to hear of George’s passing. A flood of joyful memories has suddenly hit going all the way back to St Veronica school days. Growing up a friend of the Francis family I am thankful to have been around Mr Francis and remember his words of encouragement from the crowd - during our St Veronica grade school basketball games - and boy did our teams need a lot of support during those years on the court : )
Wishing you peace and comfort during these times and remember something beautiful is on the horizon. RIP Mr. Francis.
With caring thoughts,
Frank (Cathy) Tringali and family
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Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
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