James Henry Francis passed away on December 1, 2021 in Oakland, California at the age of 85. A long- time resident of the East Bay, Jim had relocated to downtown Oakland in his final years after his beloved wife of 55 years, Mary Louise Sullivan (Marylou), passed away in 2018. He was a loving husband, brother, father and grandfather, and touched the lives of everyone he encountered with his kindness and gentleness.
Jim was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1935 and graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1954. As a high school student, he excelled in basketball and earned a spot on the Dartmouth College basketball team. Jim had a distinguished collegiate career as a 6'9" center on the team during which he averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds per game for three seasons (1954-1957) and played in the NCAA Tournament in 1956. Thereafter, Jim played in Akron, Ohio for the Goodyear Wingfoots team (a member of the National Industrial Basketball League), earning the Most Valuable Player award in 1961. Later that year, Jim moved to San Francisco to play professionally for the San Francisco Saints of the American Basketball League (later becoming the Oakland Oaks), averaging 19 points per game. After meeting his soon to be wife Marylou and turning down offers to play for the Lakers after their move to Los Angeles, Jim traded in his Chuck Taylors for wingtips and settled in San Francisco to begin his 30-year career in the financial services industry, of which 25 of those years were spent at Wells Fargo.
He was passionate about helping young people and, after retiring, spent many years as a volunteer special education aid at Woodside elementary school in Concord, CA. He was also a dedicated youth basketball coach and he coached both boys and girls CYO basketball at St Francis and St. Mary's parishes.
Jim joins his wife Mary Lou in heaven and is survived by his three devoted sons Jim (Lucinda), John (Susanne), and Kevin (Laura), as well as his six grandchildren: Grace (24), Joey (21), Johanna (23), JP (19), Riley (22) and Colby (19). He loved to support his grandchildren in all their endeavors and spent many happy hours at swim meets, volleyball games and crew races. He is also survived by his twin sister Nancy Hopkins of Branford Connecticut, and Mary Louise Brzezenski of Lexington, Massachusetts. His love for family and friends and his generous spirit will be missed by all who knew him.
Jim will be buried alongside his wife Marylou at the Queen of Heaven cemetery in Lafayette, CA, in a private ceremony on Wednesday December 8th. Friends of Jim or Mary Lou are encouraged to contact his son Kevin at email@example.com.
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