Dr. Geno Francolini, C.M., LL.D., F.C.A., H.B.A.
Geno passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on February 26, 2020. He will be deeply missed by his sister, Velma Bruni (and family), and his children, Lezlie (Don), Geoffrey (Wendy), Sara (Doug), Tony (Angie), James (Lisa) and Mark (Kirsten). To his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he was their “Babo” and will always hold a special place in their hearts. He was a true family patriarch and so often the ring-leader for competitive family card games and wonderful family trips. The kids take solace in knowing he is now with his beloved wife, Joan, in God’s presence.
To simply say that Geno led a caring and accomplished life would be a vast understatement.
As the son of Italian immigrants, and a family of modest means, his (and Velma’s) commitment to family and home began early (particularly during the depression). Independence, hard work, family support, and an entrepreneurial spirit became the hallmarks that set the foundation for the rest of his life.
At the age of eight, he sold newspapers; at age nine, he worked at the Royal Cab Company as a dispatcher (where his education in poker and other card games began). Fast forward, his high school years were a delicate balance between academics, sports and work (as an apprentice welder). Later, he worked at a Canada Packers meat packing plant to earn enough money to attend his first year at The University of Western Ontario. Originally intending to enroll at law school, his life changed direction after a business accounting course. He soon switched to earn a business degree and his chartered accountant (CA) designation; then later he was granted the Fellow of Chartered Accountant (FCA) designation. Geno’s years at Western were amazing times, building many special friendships that continued until his passing. Best of all, he met Joan when they served together on the University Students’ Council and married after graduation. They settled in London (then to Tillsonburg and back), spending 60+ years loving family, friends and serving the community.
Intermingled with the years of raising six children with Joan, Geno’s illustrious career flourished. The amazing extent of his involvement in businesses, entrepreneurial ventures, corporate boards, and community organizations is simply too vast to itemize, let alone to truly comprehend all. However, a few highlights are listed to offer you a glimpse into this incredible leader, role model and mentor.
Partner at Clarkson, Gordon & Co.; Vice-Chairman and CEO of Livingston International Inc.; President of Lonventure Capital Fund Limited; President and CEO of Xenon Capital Corporation; Board Director of: Air Canada, Algoma Steel, Algoma University College, Bell Canada, Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, Commonwealth Holiday Inns of Canada, Great Pacific Enterprises Inc., Chairman of the Greater London International Airport Authority, Harris Steel Group, J.M. Schneider Inc., Junior Achievement, Knowlton Realty Ltd., Laidlaw Inc., London Community Foundation, Sisters of St. Joseph, Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Sovereign Life Insurance Co., Trinity College School, Trudell Medical Group, Chairman of the University of Western Ontario Board of Governors and Chancellor (and so on). He was also a life-long Liberal supporter.
Geno received many awards of recognition throughout his career, but he was truly honoured and humbled when he was graced with the Order of Canada (C.M.) in 1998. For his kids, being witness to his life of incredible success was one thing, but it became something else altogether when - upon receipt of his Honorary Doctor of Law Degree at UWO - he (jokingly) asked to be called “Dr.” at home … they just couldn’t do it! Geno always had a great sense of humour, a flair for pranks, and an infectious laugh that could be distinguished from all others across crowded rooms.
Geno’s was a life well lived. He always joked that, when it came time for the inscription on his gravestone, he wanted a Sinatra favourite, “I Did It My Way” … nothing more needs to be said! We love you Dad, rest in peace.
The family wishes to thank the many Medical Priorities and Amica staff who cared for Geno. Visitations will be held at the Harris Funeral Home, 220 St. James St., on Friday, March 6, 2020, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Family Parish Catholic Church, 777 Valetta St., on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 10 am, with a reception to celebrate his life immediately following. A private family interment service will take place at St. Peter’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations directed to the following organizations would be appreciated: The University of Western Ontario Foundation Inc., Brescia University College and Holy Family Parish Catholic Church.
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