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Helen White Francis

Died: Saturday, September 20, 2003
Longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident Helen White Francis, 99, died on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003, at Canterbury-on-the-Lake.

Born on a farm in Acushnet, Mass., Mrs. Francis was introduced to city life through the New Bedford YWCA when she was in high school. The experience opened up friendships with girls from other states, and later led her to employment as a counselor and social worker at Y's in Toledo, Ohio; Summit, New Jersey; Harlem, New York; and other locations.

An undergraduate degree from Smith College and an MSW from Columbia University prepared her academically for a professional career of service. Conferences and worldwide traveling with her husband, Bert Francis, whom she married in 1935, prepared them to act as advocates for oppressed people.

Mrs. Francis later began a new career as associate professor of social work at Wayne State University. Years of reading and previous experience as a field instructor prepared her for this university experience.

Following her retirement in 1975, Mrs. Francis and her husband continued their advocacy for seniors and became members of the founding organization of Services for Older Citizens, Seniors Onward for Change.

The Francises were also instrumental in the beginning of support groups for Parkinson's patients.

Mrs. Francis continued to serve on the SOC board and was active in the Eastside Support Group after her husband died in 1989. She also served through Christ Church on the Episcopal Diocesan Committee on Affirmative Action and took part in the planning for the senior residence Canterbury-on-the-Lake before moving there in 1994.

Mrs. Francis had a family of friends wherever she lived. Many in the Grosse Pointe area knew her as the "flower lady" who gave packages of colchicum bulbs to plant in gardens. The autumn crocus are blooming now in loving memory of Mrs. Francis.
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