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Lex Lane L
Lex Lane
Richard touched many students' lives and encouraged them to develop their talents. Like Barry (comment below), I was a "charter member" of the Miller Jr. High Stage Band in the mid-60's. What an experience learning an entirely new way of playing under Richard's able leadership. He didn't just direct or tell us how to do it, he was a member of the group, playing his sax. I also had the privilege of being part of a high school vocal group/choir under Richard's direction, and he encouraged and made it possible for me to take pipe organ lessons, ultimately resulting in my playing the organ most Sunday mornings for 20+ years. Many times some of us found ourselves hanging around the Miller band room during the afternoon and/or he would find something for us to do, rearranging music or chairs, whatever, and when we would complain he would tell us, "you'll get your reward in heaven for this." Surely, he has. Rest in peace, Richard Francis.
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Kelly Breed K
Kelly Breed
When someone has added so much to one's life it's hard not to feel as though something gets subtracted on his passing. Thanks to the atmosphere that Mr. Francis created the band room was like a home away from home at Miller Junior High for me. I'll always have a vision of him sitting in that little enclosed office in the band room, where he had tapes of all the past jazz bands. We used to be in slight awe of some of the previous students and sometimes we'd sneak a listen to those tapes, only to confirm that our awe was appropriately placed. Mr. Francis fostered a lot of talent in that band room. He did not treat us like children. He treated us like musicians and expected us to reach for personal excellence. And because of him I think we did. I am lucky enough to have a little audio of one of our jazz band performances and I am still surprised at the reach of the material we did. Does anyone remember playing "Oregon?" Man, I loved that one.
Todd Metge T
Todd Metge
To one of the best teachers I ever had. Rest in peace

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Jana Metge J
Jana Metge
In honor and tribute to Mr. Francis, my life's mentor and friend. Play well in and on your next journey my friend.

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Jana Metge J
Jana Metge
Mr. Francis, my mentor my friend. He was the first to really believe in me, to push me, to set expectations for excellence. Home room, study halls in the band room listening to his huge collection of the greats, playing before Buddy Rich and getting to meet him. My life and current vocation of Musical Event productions is directly related to what I learned through him. 'Where words fail, music speaks.' Even my email - singdancesavetheworld - comes from that solid foundation which 'The Rock' instilled in my life. I am forever thankful for such a wonderful person in my life. He exemplified what being a 'teacher' really is. Rest in peace and love and prayers to my friend Pat and her family. - Jana Metge / Miller Jr High stage band 1970-1972.
Sarah (Wheeler) Stinson MHS Class of 1989 S
Sarah (Wheeler) Stinson MHS Class of 1989
The band just got a lot better in heaven. Reflecting this past week on Mr. Francis' passing brought back great memories of Tues/Thurs AM (EARLY!) jazz band and the 'visits' from great musicians. Nick Lane comes to mind as well as playing "Strawberry Shortcut" in the good ol' BR Miller cafeteria during our first jazz band concert (I can still see where I was sitting) What a great influence he had on my life and that of many. Such energy and passion was felt every day! I 100% attribute my love of jazz music to Mr. Francis - and have passed that love on to our children. I am sad that his life on earth has come to an end but the passion he instilled in so many of us lives on and is continually being passed down to the next generation. He made a difference and that will never end! You will be missed Mr. Francis. My condolences and prayers to the Francis family. Sarah (Wheeler) Stinson, Pleasanton, CA
Patrick Springer P
Patrick Springer
A sad day for me to be sure... This man single-handedly made my school days worth rising for. He was a dear friend that I shall miss a great deal. He taught us so many thing but I think the most important thing he taught me was the devotion and dedication to what you think is important.
Larry Fox L
Larry Fox
Dorothy, Ann, and Pat: It was a pleasure to know Richard as a friend and colleague for so many years. Daily contact with Richard while at Miller JHS/Middle School made every day a little more enjoyable. There are many great stories I could share about this nice man. When we read the positive comments from his former students it develops into a sense of joy and satisfaction of Richard's life and profession well done. No doubt, Richard made his mark on hundreds and hundreds of students along the way. The halls of Miller were filled with some of the greatest kids that ever entered a school doorway and many of them were fortunate enough to cross paths with Richard. When reading their tributes about their musical instruction and experiences with Richard it's obvious that he's been a significant, positive influence well into their adulthood. Richard will be missed by many and will be remembered with love and respect. Our condolences to all of his family. Larry Fox, Port Aransas, Texas
Mike Albert M
Mike Albert
Sorry I never met Richard, But his photo really tells me I missed a winner. My prayers go to Dorothy, Ann and Pat--who are winners I know!
Brenda Smith B
Brenda Smith
I have so many fond memories of Mr. Francis!! One that ranks high on my list was the day he suggested I switch from playing flute to oboe. Yes I remember countless times of failed and successful attempts at exercises for my band letter too. His passion for music education was evident all those years ago. Being in nursing education I have a deep appreciation for that driving force. I'm sure there are many lessons and life lesson I learned long ago from Mr. Francis which guide me today. For those I will always be grateful. Tears fill my eyes knowing I will never be able to say "thank you" to him. I am sad for your family's loss. God's band has gained a wonderful musician!!! ♡♡♡ Brenda Lee (Benge) Smith All State Oboe (orchestra) 1990 MHS 1991 grad
Terri Breed T
Terri Breed
He will always be Mr. Francis to me though I’m 50 years old now and he will always be one of the most positive influences in my life. His enthusiasm for music was contagious and his knowledge was so impressive. I feel so lucky to have had him as a teacher and I always felt privileged and excited to be in his bands. He made us work hard and we were happy when that work paid off. The love of music has remained during my entire life and I thank Mr. Francis for that. Rest in peace, Rock. I know you are jamming with all the jazz greats now.

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Maureen Hafar Farmer M
Maureen Hafar Farmer
I echo all the wonderful things that have been said about Mr. Francis. One of my best junior high memories is winning the Hoover (I think it was called?) Jazz Band competition. But let me tell you a good memory of him that has nothing to do with music. The band room at Miller happened to be very near the home economics classrooms. We would sometimes take whatever we cooked in home ec across the hall to Mr. Francis and he would take a bite and rave about how good it was. I distinctly remember taking him a bowl of ham and bean soup that must have been pretty awful, but he still ate it right in front of us, singing our praises! That's a good man.
jeff talmadge j
jeff talmadge
Mr. Francis was a great teacher who knew how to get the most out of each kid. He was passionate about his music and it carried over to hundreds of his students. I find the "Mr. Francis" come out in me as I'm listening to my kids practice. He instilled great character values and made his students life-long musicians. Some of my favorite Mr. Francis Quotes: You're draggin the beat, man You're Flat Put some air behind that
Holly Heddens Hanson H
Holly Heddens Hanson
After hearing about Mr. Francis's passing today I told my son who is 11, I hope one day he has a teacher who is as positive an influence on him Mr. Francis was to me. What great memories I have of climbing down those stairs at Miller Junior High at 7:30 for jazz band, playing thru home room then my first 2 periods were band. Not a bad way to start every Tuesday and Thursday. I bumped into Richard and Nick Lane this past summer while home from Seattle at the concert at the Marshalltown courthouse. What a blessing it was to see him one last time. He looked very much the same, can't say the same for me. Not the same skinny blond teenager with braces, now grown in my 40's with 3 kids, some who are old enough to be his students. You were a great teacher, musician and person and all of your hundreds of students were so incredibly fortunate to have learned so much from you. The day I got my braces off was the day you retired from teaching and I was really bummed I never got to show you:)
Randy Meyer MHS Class of '74 R
Randy Meyer MHS Class of '74
Mr. Francis brought jazz and swing bands into my life, back at BR Miller Jr. High fall '68 to spring '70, all those early morning (like 7:00 or 7:30) swing band rehearsals 7th and 8th grade in the BR Miller basement band room, the red/green folding music stands, I still remember them. You were my first director of concert band, marching band, and swing/jazz band. You pulled all your students up by their musical bootstraps and then sent them on to Jerry and Armon at MHS. My deepest condolences to Dorothy, Ann, and Pat in this time of sorrow. He was a man loved by many of his students. And the happy memories of him will live on for many years yet to come.
Patrick Wheeler - MHS 1985 P
Patrick Wheeler - MHS 1985
Great man, great musician, great teacher - I still carry a love of Jazz thanks to him, tune to Jazz 88.5 in the TC's every morning, it all started early in the mornings in the basement of BR Miller. C'mon, man - you're FLAT, Wheeler!!! And I will never forget the night he took us to see THE Count Basie play live... at 15 little did I know what a rare life treat that was, and what a gift from a man who cared so much. Thoughts and prayers, let the music play.
Todd Savage '86 T
Todd Savage '86
Mr. Francis was a tremendously positive influence. He is one of my former teachers that I often think about. I really enjoyed and learned very much from this great teacher.
Brad Thompson B
Brad Thompson
As, has been stated many times by others on this post, Richard had a profoundly positive influence on me growing up as well. He was the most influential mentor I had from my days at Miller Jr. High and MHS. I had the privledge and honor to be a student for not only 3, but for 6 years, as his duties carried him to MHS as the jazz instructor, toward the end of his teaching years. From getting to listen to various jazz artists during the mandorator mid-morning reading hours, often detested by other students, I think we, who shared homeroom in the music room with him, looked forward to those 20 minute breaks every other day. Things I shall always remember is the need to "Muster up some courage," when it was time to try to play a solo or even today when I am faced with an uncomfortable task! I am also thankful for the opportunity to return years ago, for the Miller Jr. High Reunion Band concert. While my chops have left a lot to be desired, it was great to see some former classmates and try our best to create music to some tunes we played decades ago! To that point, just a few months ago, I burned a cassette tape he had given to me 25 years ago to CD, so my teenage kids can enjoy the performances we had with Bobby Shew and Louie Belson. I think I may enjoy them more than they do, but none the less, they now know what a great band we had, thanks to Mr. Francis! Thank you Richard for all of your lessons, patience, and influence you had on me!
Deloy Davidsen D
Deloy Davidsen
It was my pleasure to have worked with Richard in many musical performances and experiences while I was with the music department at MCC. He was a great musician, teacher, and fun guy! Our prayers go out to Dorothy and his family. Deloy & Yvonne Davidsen
LeAnn (Maytag) Tromanhauser MHS Class of 75 L
LeAnn (Maytag) Tromanhauser MHS Class of 75
Mr. Francis or as we always called him, the "Rock" will always be remembered as one of my favorite teachers at Miller Jr. High. He instilled he love of music in all of us and the spirit of competiton. I have many fond memories of stage band and all the other great things that he offered us. I am sure you are making music in heaven!! "ROCK ON" My condolences go out to his wife Dorothy who taught me how to play the piano and also to the rest of his family. May God comfort you in your time of sorrow. LeAnn (Maytag) Tromanhauser MHS Class of 75
Susan Maze MHS '80 S
Susan Maze MHS '80
Mr. Francis was my all-time favorite teacher. Just yesterday I told my husband and daughter that I planned to come to Marshalltown this summer to visit him :-( As a music director, Mr. Francis provided the right balance of support and challenge. He had high expectations of us, but somehow that was motivating rather than punitive. He created opportunities to perform and compete that were advanced for the time. Mr. Francis had the foresight to move me from drums in 1973 (6th grade) to alto sax and baritone horn. He put me in jazz band – the highlight of my 7th-9th grade years at Miller Jr. High. The skills he taught enabled many of us to continue playing in high school jazz band and beyond. He was such a generous man, starting me off on his own Selmer Mark VI alto sax! I continued to “borrow” it from him until my parents bought me my own a couple years later. Mr. Francis was devoted to his students. I visited him many summers in Marshalltown during the past 20 or so years. He would usually bring photos of our jazz band from 1974-1977, so that we could talk about what the various members were up to. He still had the photos and lists of jazz band members from 30 years ago. Amazing. I had a similar experience to Krystal Lacina’s (mentioned in her post). A couple weeks ago something made me think of Woody Herman's version of Corazón (written by Carol King) - one of our (IMO) best jazz band performance pieces. I put it on my iPod, had been listening to it frequently, and had even purchased a documentary about Woody Herman that was released in Nov. 2012 - Blue Flame: Portrait of a Jazz Legend. I had not gotten around to watching the documentary yet. I’ll watch it tonight at think of Mr. Francis. Susan Maze Austin, TX
Barry Press MHS '69 B
Barry Press MHS '69
I was a member of the very first Miller Jr. High Stage Band. Richard taught a bunch of small town Iowa kids how to SWING. I'm sure it was difficult, but it always seemed to be a labor of love for him. My memories of working with him at Miller, keeping in contact through MHS and beyond, and the idea of Richard continuing to make music eternally help to ease the pain from his loss. Dorothy, (my M'town Community Band trumpet compadre) and family, my thoughts are with you. Hold tightly, in peace and love, to all your great memories of him.
Pat Bruce P
Pat Bruce
Dorothy, please accept my most sincere condolences. Richard was such a personable and musically talented man. He will be missed but you have all the wonderful memories to keep in your heart. I know this helped me. Thinking of you, Pat Bruce
Mitch Jervis M
Mitch Jervis
He was one of the people in my life who believed in me when I needed it most - a shining example of a teacher who set a high standard and just assumed his students would reach it. I wonder how many MJHS Stage Band alums think "I wouldn't be where I am today without him"? A lot, probably. I know I do.
Tom Ethingon T
Tom Ethingon
I enjoyed many daily fishing outings with Richard. I always enjoyed our conversations regarding many different topics. Many of our talks involved K U and ISU. He was definately a KU fan! I don't know of anyone with his knowledge of fishing. I learned a lot from him. While Richard and Dorothy were in the Keys he would always call and ask how the weather was during one of our nasty winter storms just to rub it in. While he is in a better place now we will all miss him. Tom Ethington
Mick Vana M
Mick Vana
It's with great sadness to hear the news of 'Rock' passing away. The influence he had on so many musicians throughout the years is incredible. The memories and honor to have the opportunity to play in his bands have lasted forever and will always have a place in my heart. I can remember it like it was yesterday....Pancake Day performances at the old Colosseum at 6a, traveling to DM Hoover for competitions, the green " Hall Pass" at MJH to get out of study hall and hang in the band room, and the likes of Bobby Shew, Louie Bellson, Nick Lane and Jim Sellards playing with his jazz bands. I think that says it all. He will be greatly missed by many, but his legacy with us will live on. God bless Dorothy and the family and our sympathies are with you! Mick Vana, MJH Jazz 1979-80
Krystal (Lacina) Randall K
Krystal (Lacina) Randall
I woke up this morning with the tune, "Willow Weep For Me" playing in my I know why. This was one of the first jazz tunes I remember playing in the Miller Jr. High "stage band". Richard's influence spanned several decades and I am grateful to have been included in one of them! Rest in Peace Beloved Teacher..Mentor..Friend. Dorothy, Ann & Pat - May God hold you in the palm of His hand!
Anita Smith Elmore, MHS 1960 class A
Anita Smith Elmore, MHS 1960 class
Mrs. Francis and family the band students from the MHS class of 1960 want to send their condolences, sympathy and prayers to you and your family. In his arms there is strength to hold you...grace to sustain you...and love to carry you through... How comforting it is to know that God will give you strength for the needs you face today. With heartfelt sympathy.
Brice Springer B
Brice Springer
Dorothy and girls I wish I had the words to comfort you. richard and I played together in the Armon Adams band for many years. That was a closely knit group who were best of friends. I do want to express my Sympathy to and the family. Brice Springer
Jessie Johnson J
Jessie Johnson
The Francis' were the best next door neighbors a person could ask for growing up as a kid. Whether it was just talking in the driveway, going to your door for a cookie break, watching Richard clean his boat, catching up each time we came home from college or from our next adventure. Thank you. You have a VERY special place in my heart as well as each of my brother and sisters. Jessie Johnson (one of the Bowman kids)
Julie Kruse Brewer J
Julie Kruse Brewer
Dorothy, Ann and Pat, I am so sorry to hear of your husband/dad's passing. I remember having him help me with my clarinet many, many years ago. May fond memories console you. Julie Kruse Brewer
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Obituary for Richard M. Francis

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

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.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Richard M. Francis please visit our Tribute Store.

Previous Events





9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
First United Methodist Church

202 W. Main St., Marshalltown, IA, United States




Funeral Service

11:00 AM
First United Methodist Church

202 W. Main St., Marshalltown, IA, United States

Cemetery Details


Riverside Cemetery

United States

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