Francis Nickolas Franson was born on June 4, 1942 in Powers Lake, North Dakota to Fred and Elizabeth Franson. He was raised on the family farm south of White Earth with his three sisters, Eileen, Ada and Freda and attended the Boyd #2 (Momb) one room country school only a couple of miles from their farm. Francis helped his father, Fred with the farm full-time after he completed the 8th grade.
Francis met the love of his life, Erma Ruden and married her at the White Earth 1st Lutheran Church on December 1, 1968. He loved to remind us that he had to get confirmed twice - once when he was a child as a Catholic and once when he married Erma as a Lutheran. They made their forever home in the house that Francis was raised in on the family farm. This would be the same home that Francis and Erma raised their two daughters - Arlys and Jody, and the same home he was living in at the time of his passing.
After Francis bought the family farm, he continued to do what he loved - raising animals and farming the land. Francis raised chickens, pigs and cattle and grew small grains which meant there was always plenty of chores and work to be done somewhere on the farm. Francis repaired all his machinery by himself and could fix almost anything. After harvest was done, there was always extra work each year as Francis butchered a steer and pig and many chickens that he had raised for his family to have through the next year. His Uncle Joe had taught him how to cut meat, so he did every step himself at the farm with his own meat saw and was very good at it. He loved everything about the farm life and the values that it brought to his family.
Around 1980, Francis and some neighbors found a need for a school bus for their children. So, they grouped together and bought the "Valley Bus” to fill that need. The bus needed a driver, and nobody wanted to get a CDL license, so Francis stepped up, took the tests, and became an official CDL licensed driver to drive their newly purchased bus. Francis drove the bus morning and night and never thought about getting paid. A couple of years later Tioga High School recognized the need for that bus route and took it over under its name and asked Francis to continue to drive the bus and become an employee of the school district which he did from 1982-2013.
Even though Francis had plenty of work to do, he loved to take time to make donuts to share with everyone. And of course, every November we had to make lefse for the holidays. Francis was a quiet, gentle man that rarely had a harsh word to say. He would always listen to what you had to say and often would reply with “Is that right?” His grandkids always replied with “That IS right!” Francis was a great support to his family. He knew the right words to say when everything looked hopeless. His wisdom and strength will live on in his family.
Francis was extremely proud of his grandkids and all their accomplishments. He would make sure to attend any special event even though it meant he had to drive to Sidney for it. From Eagle Scout Ceremonies to Confirmations and Graduations, he was there. Even though he wasn't really a sports fan, he did attend a few basketball, football, and baseball games for his grandson Corey. This past winter he even suffered through two Minot State basketball games to watch his “favorite” granddaughter, Hailey, cheer, dance, and stunt. Mostly, he loved to tell them stories about how things were done in the past.
The last couple of years, Francis' grandson, Casey, moved to the farm and began working the farm under Francis' direction and guidance. This made Francis so happy to have Casey living with him and learning how to farm his land. Francis taught Casey what needs to be done and how things were done in the past. Casey and Francis did everything together. With Casey doing the farm work, this gave Francis a time to sit in his Lazy Boy and watch his favorite shows on TV. He mostly watched the RFDTV channel - especially on Saturday nights when he could listen to the polka and music shows. He loved watching the people dance like they used to do. He and Casey also watched a lot of rodeos together. Even though he handed the farm work over to Casey, Corey and David, Francis still liked to be involved at planting, branding and harvest time and still checked the cows several times a day.
Francis died on Monday, August 1, 2022, with his family by his side, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Francis is survived by his two daughters, Arlys (Tom) Daleske and their children, Cody and Shawn; and Jody (David) Christensen and their children Casey, Hailey and Corey; two sisters, Eileen Strand and Freda Vachal; in-laws Alma LeRohl, Jeanette Stenehjem, Gary (Candice) Ruden, and Wanda (Rich) Hickel; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Elizabeth Franson; wife, Erma; his sister Ada Rolfe; and in-laws Leo Vachal, Thor Strand, Vernon Rolfe, Debbie Arneson, Bob Stenehjem and Harlow LeRohl.
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