Peter and Phyllis Francis and their two sons, Peter and Chris, lived here for many years while he ran the St. Francis Boy’s Home and served the Episcopal Church here in Ellsworth. They had many friends here. I found this obituary in the Lake Placid News and thought I’d post it for those who knew him as it’s more complete than others I’ve read.
LAKE PLACID — The Rev. Peter Francis, D.D., has often been referred to as a “living saint.” Affectionately known at “Father Pete,” he died Thursday, April 17, 2008 at his home in Lake Placid.
For most of his working life, he was a director of the various St. Francis Boys’ Homes, now known as St. Francis Community Services. In 1948, Fr. Pete opened the Salina Unit. Then, from 1952 until July 1965, he was the director of the Ellsworth Unit. In 1965, he and his family moved to Lake Placid to open the third unit, known as Camelot. During these times at the homes, he worked with hundreds of boys to rebuild their lives through “Therapy in Christ” ministry, which positively impacted them to develop into valued members of society.
Fr. Pete’s ministry began after his graduation from Carroll College and Nashotah Theological Seminary in 1944. He took care of mission churches in rural western Kansas. After his retirement, Fr. Pete assisted at St. Eustace Church in Lake Placid, as well as numerous other parishes across the northern Adirondacks.
In recognition of his 25 years of service to youth, Fr. Pete was granted an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Nashotah Theological Seminary. St. John’s Military School in Salina, Kan., where he graduated in 1937, commissioned him as an Honorary Colonel in recognition of outstanding service above and beyond the call of duty, for being a “legendary Episcopal priest who co-founded St. Francis Boy’s Home together with the Right Reverend ‘Father Bob’ Mize.” St. Francis presented Fr. Pete with its Gold Medal for 33 years of devoted service to youth.
The Adirondack Experience dedicated a building addition to Fr. Pete and Phyllis Francis. In 2007, the National Office Building for St. Francis Community Services in Salina was formally dedicated in honor of both Fr. Pete and Phyllis Francis for their genuine kindness and commitment to the boys and ministry of the St. Francis Homes.
Fr. Pete was an avid sportsman. He played football, basketball, tennis and baseball during high school and college. He also enjoyed bowling, golf and fishing. The boys at the homes often challenged him in these sports, as they felt they were better; however, this was often not the case.
Fr. Pete was a member of the Lake Placid Kiwanis Club and a board member of the North Elba Historical Society. Recently, he was active in the creation of St. Francis Alumni Organization of former boys, staff and board members.
Surviving family members are Phyllis, devoted wife of 63 years; son Christopher, his wife Stephanie and their children Henry (25) and Emily (19), all of Australia.
He was predeceased by his son Peter.
The funeral will be held at noon Friday, April 25 at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid. A reception will follow in the parish hall.
The Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in honor of the Reverend Peter Francis may be made to Adirondack Experience, 162 Adirondack Loj Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946, or High Peaks Hospice, P.O. Box 840, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.