George Allen Francis, 68 of rural Creston passed away suddenly and unexpectedly
at home October 29, 2022, of a probable cardiac event, ending a life marked by a love of music, aviation and travel. A celebration of his life will be held next spring.
Born in Creston February 3, 1954, to Donald and Norma (Lonnecker) Francis, George spent his early years on the same family farm on which he died. His childhood of riding bikes, building treehouses and getting into mischief was relatively carefree. He was quick with a joke or a prank, loved building model cars, tinkering, and playing with beloved dogs.
Family life centered on Platte Center Church where George sang in the choir and was a youth fellowship member. He was active in 4H, raising hogs and showing them at the county fair.
Early on, he displayed an exceptional aptitude for music, the saxophone being his instrument of choice. Finding his father’s old violin, he taught himself well enough to perform as the fiddler in Creston High School’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. George became an accomplished jazz saxophonist, and in his senior year earned the prestigious Arion Award for outstanding instrumental musicianship. Jazz performance was an avocation he enjoyed for the rest of his life, gigging with area bands whenever the opportunity arose.
Graduating from Creston High School in 1972, George went on to graduate from Southwestern Community College. After a stint traveling with a wheat harvesting crew, and working for a local farmer, he settled in to take over operation of the Francis family farm. In 1987 George married Karen LeAnn Keenan. This union later ended in divorce.
Especially mechanically inclined, George worked at various industries in the Creston area in addition to farming.
Because his father was a small-aircraft pilot in his younger years, George caught the aviation bug early and worked to get his pilot’s license. He also built and flew experimental planes. After a factory lay-off, he returned to school at Indian Hills Community College, earning certification as an aviation mechanic, at the age of 62. This led to dream jobs at Talkeetna Air Taxi in Talkeetna, AK, and Aircorps Aviation, a vintage plane restoration company in Bemidji, MN.
George’s most joyful years were spent traveling in retirement with his life partner Sheri Michaels. They met online when broadband was just a whisper and dial-up was the norm for online dating. In their initial correspondence, George liked that Sheri had just gotten back from a solo kayaking and tent camping trip and Sheri liked that George loved to cook and had just finished making potato salad. Their first date included dinner, a walk and a blues music club in Des Moines. Commuting to each others’ homes for 18 years and spending vacations together soon became their life. Their shortest commute was a 1.5 hour drive, one way, and the longest was up to 22 hours one way when Sheri lived in Georgia and George in Alaska. When they both retired in 2020, they began their life together full-time, living together for the better part of two years in a 170 sq. foot camper, 24/7.
George and Sheri vacationed all around the U.S. throughout their 20 years together and spent time in Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, Argentina, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and the Azores. They had plans to add another nine countries to their collection in 2023. They also enjoyed spending quiet time at the farm listening to the cardinals and bobwhites while reading the Sunday paper in the sun-soaked front porch.
George entertained Sheri while traveling with his singing, junior high humor, and childhood and life stories. In the campgrounds, George found a friend in every dog. He loved to cook, especially he said, because he loved to eat. He experimented with flavors and was fond of his spice collection.
There was never a task that George would not tackle, even plumbing, which he said he disliked. When Sheri saw George sitting holding his head in his hands, she realized he was pondering how to accomplish yet another project. No job was too big or small for him, from making a tiny part on a metal lathe to building an airplane in his metal and woodworking farm shop.
George will long be remembered for his quiet unassuming nature, quirky perspective, dry wit, and his readiness to help where needed.
Survivors include his life partner Sheri Michaels, Creston; brother Richard Francis (wife Kathy), Carroll, IA; sister Becky Hook (husband Les), Oak Ridge, TN; sister Michele Francis (husband Jim Arnold), Cedar Rapids, IA; as well as seven nephews, three nieces, two great-nephews and three great-nieces. George was preceded in death by his parents.
Memorials may be directed to Talkeetna Public Library or Antique Airplane Association, Inc. Pearson Family Funeral Service and Cremation Center has assisted the family with arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared online at www.pearsonfuneralhomes.com