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Footprints: Keith Archibald Francis - Religious man gone to eternal garden

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM

"He was a good man, a man of principle, a man of character, a man who loved deeply, and was loved in return," John Francis told the gathering at St Gabriel Anglican Church in May Pen, Clarendon, on February 29.

It was the funeral of his father, Keith Archibald.

Francis was born on April 28, 1928 to Henrietta Johnson and Reginald Leopold Francis.

He grew up with nine siblings: Eric, Richard, Ida, Melvina (Nelly), Isaac (Barry), Norma, Beverley, Norman and Norah.

After leaving May Pen School in Clarendon, he went to work as an assistant at Lubsy's Drugstore. There, he met Ella Elizabeth Dawes of York Pen. His romantic pursuit of the lovely Ella ended on February 20, 1950 when they got married.

Francis and his wife eventually produced eight children. In turn, those children - Trevor, Patrick, Albert, Sonia, Antonio, Peter, John and Robert - gave them 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

But working at the drugstore, where he met his wife, could not sustain a family. So he became an apprentice mechanic at Terrier's Garage. After his apprenticeship ended in 1957, he went to work at Monymusk Sugar Estate. There, he became senior supervisor of the Irrigation Division and trade union representative of the National Workers' Union.

Francis was also very active in the Church.

"Daddy was also a deeply religious man.

Humble as he was, he never would have assumed a free pass to Heaven," his son told the congregation about his father, the "community man", who was loved and emulated by many.

He was also eulogised as a man who was a leader, strict disciplinarian, hard-working, mannerly, strong, loyal, confident, extremely honest, compassionate, graceful, principled, decent and brave. Among the things he loved were flowers and music.

"Daddy had an inordinate fondness for playing the harmonica, gardening, and knowledge. At family gatherings, Daddy always would quietly sit by playing his mouth organ as we enjoyed playful discussions," his son said.

"Those of us who knew him well will have no trouble imagining his paradise: a beautiful garden with flowers in full bloom at all seasons."

- Paul H. Williams