Cover photo for James Gilbert Francis's Obituary
James Gilbert Francis Profile Photo

James Gilbert Francis

d. September 14, 2018

Born on the family farm in Marmaduke, Arkansas, James “Jim” Gilbert Francis learned the importance of love and hard work early on. When his father became ill, he put in his first crop at age 9. He attended Greene County Tech high school and drove the school bus while a student there. He met the love of his life, Patricia Gayle Francis, during those years and they were married shortly after graduation in 1953. Soon after they wed, they moved to California, settling in Bakersfield. There, they raised four children. 

     Jim worked as a carpenter, and was a foreman on the construction of the Civic auditorium, as well as West High School. In the early 60’s, he went into a partnership forming Francis and Jacobs Construction, then later went out on his own to have James G. Francis Contractor Inc. He was a proud member of both the Carpenters and Operating Engineers unions, and worked skillfully all over California. His company removed the trolley tracks that ran down Chester Ave, and built the Chester Ave undercrossing north of Garces circle. Upon completion of that impressive job, he barbecued steaks for all of his employees in the center of the road before it was opened. 

     In the mid 70’s, Jim opened Greenfield Auto Parts, Greenfield Trucking Company, and Greenfield truck stop. He had his pilot's license, often flying to pick up parts, and occasionally flying them directly to a job site. After retiring from the construction businesses, he joined his wife Gayle running the auto parts store full time. He loved meeting and helping people, so much so that he would often be found helping stranded motorists on the side of the road. 

    Although his work life was busy, he always had time for family. He converted an old passenger bus into a motor home and took the family across the entire U.S., creating cherished memories. He also took family and friends on countless fishing trips to Lake San Antonio. Jim lovingly took care of his wife after her stroke in 2002, until her passing in 2014. He was a Christian, and donated countless hours of service to his church. Jim was also involved in volunteering at government food giveaways until the very end. 

    Jim put his whole heart into everything he did; whether it was picking cotton by hand, working as a carpenter, running successful businesses, fixing cars, hunting, or being an outstanding father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather.  He has left an impact on so many lives, and it will not be forgotten. 

    Waiting for his arrival in heaven were:his wife Patricia Gayle Francis, his parents, Gib and Clestea Francis, and his sons James Steven and Joseph Shane. Left on earth to miss him are: his daughter Jamie Dears and son Timothy Francis, 9 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and one on the way, 3 great great grandchildren, in- laws, nieces, nephews and his best friend Sue. Memorial Service for Mr. James Gilbert Francis will be Saturday September 22, 2018 at 11:00 AM at Day Break Church 5446 Taft Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93313

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