Captain Thomas A. Francis, a vibrant Catholic, devoted father, and friend of Christendom College, passed away earlier this week on the 4th of July. Francis sent eight of his nine of his children to Christendom and saw many of his sixty-three grandchildren eventually attend the college as well. He passed at the age of 88, leaving behind an incredible legacy and a tremendous example of fatherhood and Catholicism.
“His faith was foremost in his life, bringing Padre Pio’s message of prayer and hope to each and every one he met. Friends and family are blessed by the tremendous example he set living the faith in his daily life,” reads his obituary.
A native of Wisconsin, Francis served in the U.S. Navy for many years, eventually retiring with the rank of captain. He and his wife, Lora Lee, had ten children, including his son, Paul, who died at an early age.
In the early 1970s, while living in Virginia, he and his wife befriended many of the original first families of Christendom College, as well as college founder Dr. Warren Carroll and his wife, Anne. Eight of his nine surviving children attended Christendom, with many eventually marrying other alumni and one, Sister Immaculata, joining the religious life as a Nashville Dominican sister. The marriages helped form other large, Catholic families, including the Hambletons, the Haislmaiers, and other extensions of the Francis family.
“Captain and Mrs. Francis were one of the first families to send the majority of their children to Christendom,” says vice president for enrollment Tom McFadden, who has known the Francis family since childhood. “I always admired Captain Francis, for being such a great example of a Catholic father, for raising some great — and lively — kids, for his service to his country, and the work ethic he bestowed on his children and grandchildren. He is a true Catholic hero – one to be emulated by all.”
Francis was blessed with sixty-three grandchildren from these families, many of whom have attended Christendom, and thirty-three great-grandchildren. They survive him, along with his wife of fifty-seven years, Lora Lee, his children, and his brother, Raymond Francis.
A viewing will be held on Friday, July 7 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, where a funeral Mass will also be celebrated the next day at 12:30 p.m.