Betty Catherine (Wilkinson) Francis, age 91, was born on January 16, 1931, in Glendale, Ohio to the late James Sherman Wilkinson and Wilson (Turner) Wilkinson. Betty was an only child.
Betty was a lifelong resident of Glendale, Ohio. At an early age she decided to join Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church where she maintained lifelong membership. She attended Eckstein Elementary School and graduated from Glendale High School in 1948. Betty then matriculated to Tennessee State University where she studied home economics.
In 1946, Betty met Thomas “Toby” Clinton Francis, Sr. Soon thereafter, Toby asked James and Wilson for their blessing to marry their only child. From that union three children were born: Gloria Jean Francis, Michelle Ann (Francis) Parrish, and Thomas Clinton Francis, Jr. (Lorelei). Toby preceded Betty in death, but not before 63 glorious years of marriage. Together, they made sacrifices to ensure their three children knew they were loved and cared for.
A dedicated employee, Betty worked for both the Kemper and Sawyer families of Glendale. She utilized her talents to keep the families organized, was a trusted confidant to her employer, and often served as a sounding board for both families’ children and grandchildren. She demonstrated culinary talents that allowed her to serve as a caterer for many private events that were held in the village.
Betty was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother who always put her family first. Living in the same community of her birth, Betty put her heart and soul in raising her family with her beloved husband, Toby, prior to their passing.
To know Betty, you could attest to her gentle, humorous, and loving nature. Her hobbies included knitting, collecting antiques and cookbooks, and reading. However, her greatest passion was arranging fresh cut flowers that abundantly adorned her home. For many years she served on the floral guild of Mt. Zion where she always made sure the church had fresh cut flowers on each side of the altar. After services, Betty would then repurpose those flowers to be given to those members sick and shut-in. She made sure she never missed a Sunday. Betty was also the one who remembered so many of her relatives’ and friends’ birthdays with card and gifts. It was just another example of her putting others first.
Remember Betty as a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, cousin, friend, and neighbor. She dearly loved her many “kin-folk,” but her greatest joys were from the birth and accomplishments of her five grandchildren- Ayo, Oni, Gyasi (Sonovia), James, and Jelani- and her one great grandson, Khalil. She was able to witness her grandchildren grow into accomplished, educated adults. Her great grandson, Khalil, lived just a couple doors away and could easily visit to see her. As each of them continues in their individual pursuits, Betty would want them to know she will be smiling fondly down upon them from heaven. Included in her smiles will be her neighbor, like a son, Carlos Reid, and his partner, Dianna Toran.
Let us not leave here today with a heavy heart. Betty would simply want you to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord and to rejoice, knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). God makes no mistakes. The time had come for God to call another chosen Angel home!
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Turner-Wilson Scholarship Fund, the Eckstein Cultural Arts Center, the Brock Foundation, or a charity of your choice in the name of Betty C. Francis. Checks can be mailed to the home of T. Clinton Francis, 2041 Cotswold Dr., Orlando, FL 32825.