American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Henry S. Francis Jr., 1930-1990

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

HENRY S. FRANCIS JR.

1930-1990

Harry, as he was known to all, except possibly his parents, died at home on October 7, 1990. Though his fatal cancer had been diagnosed in the spring, he quickly came to grips with it and enjoyed the rest of his life. Harry loved logistics and personal relations. He was an organizer of every expedition he went on and those who accompanied him appreciated his skills, knowing very well that without Harry’s push we’d have been at some far less exciting place. It was Harry who came back from a visit to Bob Bates with ideas to lead a 1952 Harvard Mountaineering Club attempt on Mount McKinley and later a visit with Dr. Charles Houston that caused a large Harvard Mountaineering Club group to spend a long summer exploring the Hushe Valley of the Karakoram in 1955.

I was not surprised when Harry turned up at Little America V in December of 1957 as executive assistant to our Chief Scientist. Our Scientist loved his research and so Harry moved in and ran the place. He taught a history course and tried to learn Russian. We all loved him for protecting us from bureaucratic pea-counters.

After the International Geophysical Year, Harry continued with the National Science Foundation and was directly and heavily involved with the negotiations for the Antarctic Treaty. Mount Francis, 72° 13´ S, 168° 45´ E, overlooking the Tucker Glacier, was named for Harry in honor of his Antarctic activities.

For the past 20 years, Harry’s interest has been directed towards conservation. He worked as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and then for almost 15 years as the major force in the Student Conservation Association, an organization that places high school and college volunteers in environmentally related jobs. During his tenure, he increased the number of volunteers by over a factor of five. Recently he formed Youth Opportunities, an organization to aid school dropouts with remedial education, training and placement.

Harry leaves his father of Walpole, New Hampshire, his wife Sharon Fairley Francis, who accompanied him on many a trip to British Columbia and continues to live in their beautiful home, Sky Farm, in Charlestown, New Hampshire, and their son Christopher, who lives in Boston.

Stephen DenHartog

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