Laveta Ann Francis
Laveta was born in Gentry, AR on August 18, 1934 to Achel and Mollie Hardcastle. She passed away in her sleep at her home in Bartlett, TN on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. In 2010 she moved to Bartlett from Jacksonville, FL and established residence after her husband, Walter died. In 2017, when her battle with cancer caused her to need more care, she joined her sister and brother-in-law in their home. She enjoyed the company of their grandchildren and great grandchildren who loved to see their Aunt ‘Beta’ when they came to visit. Laveta was a member of Ellendale Baptist Church, in Bartlett, TN. She was actively involved in the Women On Mission Program. WOM was her passion throughout her adult life, picking up her Mother’s legacy-giving monetarily for missionaries who are spreading the gospel around the world.
Laveta was preceded in death by her husband, parents, one sister, Eileen Calhoun, and two brothers, Robert Franklin Hardcastle, and Achel Hardcastle Jr. She is survived by three sisters, Laurine Barnett, Siloam Springs, AR, Mary Chivers, Little Rock, AR, and Evelyn Davis (Ron) Bartlett, TN. Family and friends will gather at Freck Funeral Chapel, 1155 Wynn Road, Oregon, OH 43616, Saturday, May 16, 2020. Burial will take place at Restlawn Memorial Park beside her husband.
The Life and Legacy of Laveta Francis
Laveta was born on a farm near Gentry, Arkansas and enjoyed not only farm life, but also living in town. From about the age of six to age eleven the family moved back and forth from town to the farm at least a couple of times, depending on whether he could get someone to take care of the farm during the fruit harvest. For about eight years her Dad also owned a feed store in town.
As soon as Laveta graduated from high school she traveled to Tulsa and attended Draughon’s Business School. She not only had English, accounting, typing, math, business law, etc. but she excelled in Shortland. As soon as she graduated she secured employment in Tulsa and worked for three oil companies: Carter, Humble, and Exxon oil Company. After 12 years, family needs took her back to Arkansas. For the next few years (In between life changes) she attended Arkansas Tech in Russellville and later the University of Arkansas/ Fayetteville.
In 1970, her nephew David invited her to come to Ohio where he was working. So, at the age of 35, in 1970, she traveled to Toledo, Ohio and applied for employment with Chessie Railway (CSX) in Toledo/ Walbridge, Ohio. The person that interviewed her for a job was Walter Francis. He interviewed her the first of February; they were engaged in April, and married in October. They had been married 38 years when he passed away. Laveta and Walter did not have any children, but had plenty of nieces and nephews to fulfill their need of “little ones.”
In the following years, they settles in Perrysburg, Ohio and not only attended church, but were immersed in church life. Walter was Youth Director, Sunday School Teacher, and Deacon; Laveta was Organist, WMU Director and helped Walter on many trips with the youth. They remained intensely involved with friends from that church assembly and have had many reunions throughout the years. Through the years, Walter and Laveta traveled through 48 states on vacations. Many of the friends from that church joined them on some of those trips.
When CSX offered Laveta a transfer to the Florida location, they thought this was a wonderful opportunity (and a warmer climate). Because of health problems Walter had had to accept disability, so this idea was welcomed. Laveta continued to work until retirement. In total, they enjoyed some 25 years in sunny Florida.
Shortly after Laveta retired in 1999, health problems started to appear. She had two different cancers occur in succession. The last one has lasted 14 years. And yet, she never quit living life-until recently. Laveta’s legacy is her generosity. She has paid for numerous college education expenses, cars, clothes, utilities, car repair, tires, and driver’s education classes and so much more. She organized family reunions. She loved her family and has been very close to all the original 20 grandchildren. (They came to the farm frequently.)
About fifteen years ago, Walter adopted a Standard Cocker Spaniel puppy that he named Sir Winston Lee Francis. As the years went by he became attached to Laveta and remained a constant companion. Not only was he beautiful, he was smart and loving. About two years ago, because his health was failing, he died. As Laveta grieved for Winston, she decided to write about their life together. Soon afterwards-she had it published. Laveta has gone on to meet up with family members and I can’t help but believe- Winston will be there too.
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