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Recognizing the Life of Jack Clifford ``soap'' Francis

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 16, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KELLY of Mississippi. Madam Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the life of Jack Clifford ``Soap'' Francis, who passed away peacefully on September 9, 2020.

Soap was born on February 20, 1925 in Verona, Mississippi to parents Wiley and Ruby Francis. He was raised in Amory, Mississippi, where he graduated from high school in 1942. Upon his graduation, Soap attended Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree. His love for the Bulldog family persisted even after graduation, as he went on to endow a scholarship for a Monroe county student each year.

Soap's patriotism became evident when he volunteered for World War II as a freshman in college. He bravely served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps as a Navigator on 35 missions from England over Germany. His crew's plane was crippled by blasts on Christmas Day of 1944 during Battle of the Bulge, but he safely returned home while still maintaining lasting friendships with his crew members.

After his time in the Army, Soap opened Francis Insurance in 1954 and later, Francis Reality after marrying his wife, Mary Lib. Soap served on the boards of the Mississippi Mutual Insurance Association and the National Bank of Commerce, and continued to run his businesses until the 1990's.

In his community, Soap was known as an active member of First Baptist Church, where he was a Deacon, Sunday School teacher, department superintendent, and usher with a pocketful of peppermints and a smile for everyone. Soap was also a dedicated Rotarian, touting an impressive 60 years of perfect attendance at club meetings across the globe. In his years of membership, he served as President of the Amory Club, endowed numerous fellowships dedicated toward eradicating polio, hosted an exchange student from Australia, and was affectionately named the ``Ultimate Rotarian.''

In his free time, Soap loved to play tennis or take a long bike ride down the Natchez Trace. He loved to travel both internationally and domestically, meeting new friends along his journies. He was an avid musical theatre fan and original ``foodie.''

Soap was preceded in death by his son, Jack Francis, and is survived by his wife, Mary Lib Francis; daughters Beth and Patti Francis; and his grandchildren Mary Paige Hyland, Madison Francis, Ruby Ross, Violet Ross, Lulu Ross, Barrett Griffin, and Amory Griffin.

Jack Clifford ``Soap'' Francis' life was one of service, grace, and love for his family, community, and country. He will be greatly missed by all whom he encountered.

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