Francis Children Reflect on Life with Father

Kathleen, Tim and David Francis give the inside scoop about their parents, Norman and Blanche.


What’s the fondest memory of your dad?

Kathleen Francis: “Dad believes he can fix any and everything…
he’s a plumber mechanic, baseball, football and tennis coach, to
name a few. But my fondest memories are of this very calm and
measured man getting so passionate about teaching us how to field
a ball or throw a football. He’s stepped up his game. In addition to
his beloved Saints, he’s coaching Serena, Venus, and, most recently,
Madison Keys…. and, no, I’ve never seen him play tennis nor has he
ever met them.”

Tim Francis: “Playing baseball and hearing him coach from the stands.

David Francis: He had a habit of using the word “we” as a euphemism
for what he had planned for you to do. “We” was typically used
regarding yard work and repairing or fixing something that neither of
us had the necessary expertise to accomplish.”

What’s he like as a father?                                                                     

Kathleen: “He expected you to do your best, and never allowed us
to blame others for our failures. He and our mom taught us what
real partnership, shared roles and joint parenting is all about.”

Tim: “A visiting ambassador. While our mother was the primary
parent, he was strict, but nice. Never cursed and always would say
that we could do whatever we wanted to do if we just put our mind
to it.”

David: My mother was the disciplinarian. He was the mediator,
but always backing my mother.

What’s something your dad taught you?                                  

Kathleen: Everybody matters.

Tim: Never quit and have faith in God.

David: Treat all people with dignity and respect regardless of race,
gender or socioeconomic condition, and so forth because you can
learn something from everyone

Were there advantages to having Dr. Francis as a father?       

Kathleen: I think that goes without saying and I don’t think you can answer this question without acknowledging our mother’s role. We grew up modestly, but with a wealth of exposure and opportunity; exposure to and interaction with people of all races, cultures and socioeconomic levels. There was great love throughout our extended family; the one we were born into and the extended XU family.

Tim: While living on campus, we got to run around like we owned the place. As an adult, and living in the city, we got the benefit of the doubt on being raised right, but that only goes so far.

David: You didn’t have to look for a role model. You learned from his disciplined approach. His calm demeanor. Reasoned approach to issues, work ethic and ability to navigate amongst many

Were there disadvatages?                                                               

Kathleen: I don’t see any disadvantages. A normal, imperfect and
loving father and mother with normal, imperfectly, loving children.

Tim: Some think that we were raised with silver spoons, which could not be further from the truth. One of the great lessons we learned from our parents was a good work ethic. At age 10, I worked in the art department for John Scott to earn money (2 dollars an hour) to buy things I wanted and often times needed. I also used to mop the floors in the summers at
Xavier to earn money and cut the neighbors’ grass. So, despite what folks may think about whether we had advantages from having a well-known and respected mother and father, we cut our teeth the old fashion way.

David: Other people had high expectations of us. No matter where we went, someone knew him or my mother so we had to be on our best behavior.

Next: Class of 2015 Graduation