Our dearly loved father Jerry Pat “JP” Francis, affectionately known as Grandsir, passed away on his 78th birthday, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 after spending a week at the East Texas Home Place Hospice in Tyler, Texas.
Nurses and doctors warned us that he wouldn't make it to his birthday, but if you knew Jerry Pat, you would know that he would think it great fun to prove everyone wrong. A larger-than-life man with a great sense of humor, JP was an adored father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was a loyal and generous friend, and he was a most beloved husband to Charlotte Sue Rosson Francis, who preceded him to heaven in 2009.
Jerry Pat was born in Palestine, Texas, Dec. 14, 1935 to Mozelle Dressell Francis and Pat Francis.
He joined the Army after high school and returned to Palestine to marry Charlotte, the love of his life, in 1958. In 2008, JP and Charlotte celebrated 50 years together. JP, known as "Cro-magnon" or just "Cro" to his railroad buddies, began working for the Union Pacific Railroad in August 1970 and retired in August 2000 after loyally serving 30 years with the line. Because of his love for children and community in his younger adult life Jerry coached numerous little league teams, was a longtime member of the Lion's Club serving as president in several different chapters, and whenever called upon he was always happy to step in as Santa's helper.
JP leaves great memories to his children, Lisa Francis Bennett and husband Josh of Pert, Leslie Francis Chase and husband Scot of Bellaire, and Matthew Rosson Francis and wife Debra of Livingston. He also leaves behind his grandchildren, Frank Zator and fiance Jelissa of Austin, Jerry “JP” Zator and wife Gina of Palestine; Austin Chase, Sidney Chase, and Chance Chase of Bellaire; and Maggie Chiarizia and David Chiarizia of Livingston. JP leaves behind his great-grandchildren, Travis Zator, Trevor Zator, Landyn Zator, Elizabeth Ruiz, and Daylyn Coggins of Palestine. He also leaves behind his brother, Charles “Buddy” Francis and wife June of Palestine; and his special and dear friend, Louise Pennington of Palestine.
JP never met a stranger. Ask anyone what they remember about him, and they will talk about his colorful (and mostly true) stories of hunting, fishing and other escapades.
You were always there for us, bigger than life, making each of us feel loved and special and protected. You kept us in line with a firm yet loving hand. Your humor and laughter and mischievous way of looking at the world will be with us always, we will miss your kind and generous heart, and we will love you forever.
A memorial celebrating JP's life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21 at Walston Springs Baptist Church, FM 2419 in Palestine.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Jerry Pat Francis to East Texas Hospice 4111 University Blvd., Tyler, Texas 75701.