Richard Francis, 86, of Marshalltown, IA, passed away Tuesday, March 11, 2014 under hospice care at the Iowa State Veterans Home following a lengthy illness. Celebration of Life services will be 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 14, 2014 at First United Methodist Church in Marshalltown. Visitation will be held Friday, March 14, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. until the time of services. Private graveside services will be in Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of floral offerings, memorial donations in honor of Richard may be directed to the First United Methodist Church in Marshalltown or to the Iowa State Emergency Food Box. The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff at First United Methodist Church and the staff at the Iowa State Veterans Home along with the staff of Iowa Hospice. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.andersonfhs.com.
Richard was born Septemer 4, 1927 in Coffeyville, KS to Wilbur C. Francis and Lettie Merrick Francis. He graduated from high school in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, attended the University of Kansas, received a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Arts in music from Northest Missouri State College (now Truman State University).
In 1950, he married Dorothy Brenner at First United Methodist Church in Olathe, KS. During the Korean Conflict he served as drum major in the 89th Army Band at Ft. Still, OK. Upon his honorable discharge in 1952, he began his music teaching career in Marshalltown, Iowa, working with Armon Adams, his former high school music instructor and students in grades 4-12.
Richard was a member of First United Methodist Church in Marshalltown where he sang in the adult choir and directed a youth choir. For many winters he also sang in the First United Methodist Church choir in Big Pine Key, Florida. He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, YMCA Heritage Club, University of Northern Iowa President’s Club, University of Northern Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame, University of Kansas Alumna Assoc., Marshall County Gun Club, Florida Keys Fly Tiers, Souvenir Club, and the Die Hards.
His membership in professional organizations included the National Education Association, Marshall County Education Association, Iowa State Education Association, Iowa Bandmasters and National Association of Jazz Educators. During his teaching years, Richard played saxophone with the Armon Adams Dance Band. To help broaden his student’s interests he also invited nationally known jazz musicians to hold workshops in the Marshalltown schools. Over 20 of Richard’s former students have chosen careers in the music field. Richard and his wife, Dorothy, endowed music scholarship bearing their names at the University of Kansas.
Richard also had a deep interest in woodworking, using native walnut. He built the interior of the family home in Marshalltown and added many pieces of furniture. In addition, he donated these talents to helping keep the buildings in repair at the Marshalltown Gun Club. An outdoorsman, Richard chose the Florida Keys for retirement winters where he enjoyed salt water swimming, boating, back-country fly fishing. When hurricanes hit his Keys home, he nailed the screens back onto the porch and repaired the roof that threatened to admit the sky.
Richard is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dorothy, two daughters, Ann Francis of Omaha, NE and Patricia Pocius of Fairplay, Co, two grandsons, Andrew (Kristi) Tank of Ames, IA and Daniel (Amy) Pocius of Colorado Springs, CO, a sister-in-law Margaret Francis of Cedar Park, TX, a niece Marla Reim of Austin, TX, a nephew Stuart Francis, Cedar Park, TX and a good fishing buddy, Dick McBride.
In eternal life, Richard has been reunited with his parents, his brother William C. Francis and close friends, Bill Lane, Jerry Cunningham, Bill Barton, Don Rankin, Don Hayes, Grant Petereson, Verne Johnson, Ev Cochrane and Jim Sellards.