Blanche Francis, civic activist and wife of legendary Xavier University president emeritus Norman C. Francis, died Monday at her home in New Orleans of respiratory arrest. She was 89.
Blanche Francis received a degree in physical education at Xavier in 1948 and taught modern dance at the university. In 1955, she married Norman Francis, who became Xavier’s president in 1968, and they raised six children. Among her many civic endeavors, Blanche Francis was a member of Women of the Storm, a group that flew to Washington several times after Hurricane Katrina to secure money to restore the Gulf Coast after the storm.
“Mrs. Francis did more than simply show up at campus events,” the university said in a statement Tuesday. “She offered advice, assistance, and friendship to countless students, staff, faculty, and alumni for nearly four decades. She was a regular at campus athletic events.”
Norman Francis cited her failing health as one of the reasons for retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year after serving 46 years at the university’s helm.
Funeral arrangements are pending.