Telesphore Francis

 

John Francis

 

Willie Francis

Donaldsonville Marble & Granite Company, formally known as Francis Mortuary was established in 1875 by Telesphore Francis, who was the first Mortician for both races in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. He would rent out his large, black Arabian horses named Sunny Bea, and Gordon McGregor. These horses pulled a beautiful, black hearse for all funerals during his first Sexton of both Ascension Catholic Cemetery and Protestant Cemetery

Telesphore Francis hired a German immigrant to cut inscriptions and designs by hand. His sons, Willie and John Francis,were also talented at this craft. Trade secrets were transferred down to the fourth generation of the Francis family; they presently take care of the family prodigy.

Although Telesphore began his business in a stable, he built has first shop in 1885 in what is known as the Protestant Cemetery The shop was later moved by his second oldest son, Willie A. Francis, Sr. on Opelousas Street in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. This shop was modernized later by Willie Francis, Jr.

Telesphore used his wealth and resources to assist both the black and white communities in Donaldsonville. He turns down no plea for help. His entire efforts including his business was dedicated to aiding all people with their problems. Color did not play any role in the manner that help was rendered. Jesus says, "If You Love Me, Feed My Sheep". Telesphore and his children answered Jesus's call. He was a true humanitarian for his community.

While researching Telesphore's years of life, there was no evidence of his accomplishments in early newspapers and on microfilm. His works and deeds still speaks for him, long after his death. If you would visit his grave in Ascension Catholic Cemetery, his epitaph reads, "He loved his neighbors better than himself".

Personal suffrage has never been a reason to end the helping effort. A legacy of love and pride has been passed down to the Francis Family as we walk in our ancestor's footsteps.

Gayle & Stanley Francis, Sr.

Owners of Donaldsonville Marble & Granite Company