TERRE HAUTE —
Thomas L. Francis, 83, of Naples, Florida, and formerly of Terre Haute died at 11:57 P.M., Monday, September 9, 2013 at Cobblestone Crossings Health Campus. He was an engineer and prominent businessman both locally and statewide in general construction, having served as President and CEO of CDI, Inc. Tom was born February 27, 1930 in Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet, Illinois.
Survivors include his loving wife of 40 years, Connie L. Kittle Francis; one daughter, Pamela Francis of Lakeport, CA; two sons, Scott Francis and his wife, Jill Francis, of Terre Haute and Garth Francis of Ft. Myers, FL; three granddaughters, Sarah Francis Willard and her husband, Derek, of Lima, Peru, Jessica Francis of Boulder, CO, and Ashley Francis of Orlando, FL; a brother, Craig R. Francis and his wife, Linda, of Bonita Springs, FL; and two great-grandchildren, Jackson Scott Willard and Evelyn Marie Willard. Also surviving are his mother-in-law, MaryBelle Kittle of Lewis, IN; his sister-in-law, Brenda Culler of Lewis, IN; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas H. Fairclough and Vivian Esther Jordan Fairclough Francis Turrell; and a sister, Jo Musterer.
After graduating from Joliet Township High School in 1948, Tom attended Purdue University on a Naval ROTC Scholarship whereupon he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1952 and was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy, he served during the Korean War as a line officer on the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard in the Far East and on the training carrier USS Monterey at Pensacola, FL, before being honorably discharged as a Lieutenant (jg) in 1955.
Tom joined the special atomic power study group of Monsanto Chemical Company in St. Louis, MO, which was dedicated to the study of peaceful use of atomic energy. He later was founder, officer and board Member of Internuclear Company of St. Louis which was a specialized engineering consulting firm dedicated to conceptual design and studies relating to commercial applications of nuclear energy.
Tom also pursued further academics at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL, near Chicago and at North Carolina State College in Raleigh, NC. While at Argonne he completed the select course of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program of the International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering. His consulting involved working with the nuclear departments of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, NAVATOM of Sweden, General Electric Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion, Kyoto University of Japan, General Motors and others.
Seeking a change of vocation, he moved to Terre Haute, IN, in 1961 as a co-founder of Contemporary Development, Inc. (later CDI) which is dedicated to building construction and real estate development. He served as President of CDI until 1999 and since then as Board Chairman and CEO.
Tom was a co-founder of the Greater Terre Haute Homebuilder Association and served as its first President, was Director and President of The Associated General Contractors of Indiana and was a member of the Indiana and National Society of Professional Engineers, The Indiana and National Society of Real Estate Boards, the Terre Haute Board of Realtors, The Francis-Vigo Chapters of Professional Engineers, The Associated Building Contractors of Terre Haute and Indiana Chamber of Commerce. He received the distinction of being appointed to the Commission of the Administrative Building Council of Indiana by Governor Otis Bowen where he served as its Chairman, and later was appointed by Governor Robert Orr to the successor organization, the Commission of the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Department of Indiana where he served as its Chairman until his retirement in 1986. These Commissions were responsible for the adoption of Building Codes for the State of Indiana. Tom was honored for his leadership and seven years of service when Governor Orr made him a Sagamore of the Wabash.
His involvement in the Terre Haute community included serving as a Board Member of Merchants National Bank, Board Member of General Housewares Corporation, Board Member and Chairman of the Greater Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Board Member and President of the Sheldon Swope Art Museum Board of Associates and later was appointed to the three-member Board of Managers where he served as Treasurer. He was a Board Member and President of the Family Service Association, worked on the allocation committee of the United Way, was a Board Member of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, member of the Board of Associates at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the President’s Council of Indiana State University the President’s Council at Purdue University. Tom was a member and Chairman of the Board at First Congregational Church, member of the Indiana Society of Chicago, the Columbia Club, Skyline Club and the Wine and Food Society of Indianapolis. He also was a member of the Country Club of Terre Haute, Quail Creek Country Club of Naples, FL, B.P.O. Elks Lodge #86, Terre Haute Turf Club, Aero Club #826, Matteson Masonic Lodge #175 of Joliet, IL, Scottish Rite Valley of Terre Haute and Zorah Temple.
Memorial services are scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 14, 2013 in Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th Street, with Reverend Dawn Carlson officiating. Visitation will take place prior to services on Saturday from 12:00 Noon-3:00 p.m. The family kindly requests that memorial contributions may be made to Sheldon Swope Art Museum, 25 South 7th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807, Thomas & Connie Francis Charitable Trust of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, 2901 Ohio Blvd, STE 153, Terre Haute, IN 47803-2239, or to First Congregational Church, 630 Ohio Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807.
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