man in suit and sunglasses outdoors

Rick Francis

A Celebration of Life

A service celebrating the life of Rick Francis took place in Phillips Stevens Chapel on the Williston campus on Saturday, September 30, 2023. Watch the full ceremony, and read more below about Rick’s abiding impact as a teacher and coach at Williston.

Mr. Francis started at Williston Academy in 1958 as a math teacher, and spent his entire career here teaching, coaching, and directing Williston’s athletic program until his retirement in 2000. In that time, he made a profound impact that’s still felt in the way we do things today.

As a Williston Northampton coach and the school’s athletic director, Coach Francis led the football program to a 165-150-3 record, including undefeated seasons in 1963 and 1981 and NEPSAC championships in 1963 and 1993, and also led boys basketball to a 204-174-1 record. He was an inaugural member of the Williston Athletics Hall of Fame, as well as a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, and the NEPSAC Football Hall of Fame. Francis was a past president of the Western New England Preparatory School Athletic Association, New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, and Western Mass chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

Life at Williston is about much more than just athletics, but sports have always played a vital role in developing students that live with purpose, passion, and integrity. To quote current Athletic Director Mark Conroy, “Rick was a remarkable, larger-than-life figure, who made a huge impression on students and faculty alike. He helped set the example for all of us on what it means to compete with dignity and integrity.” Upon Coach Francis’ retirement, the Rick and Marilyn Francis Appreciation Fund was established by alumni as an endowed scholarship to celebrate the Francis’ long legacy at the school.

black and white photo of teacher in sportcoat at blackboard

In Memoriam

Richard Reid Francis passed away on July 8, 2023, with his wife Marilyn by his side. Rick was born in Middletown, CT in 1934 to Paul and Ruth Francis. He graduated from Choate School in 1952 and Wesleyan College in 1958. He spent 2 years in the Army from 1955-1957. While at Wesleyan he lettered in football, baseball and track, and earned Little All-American status for football.

Rick Francis Retirement Tribute Video

In the early 2000s, as Rick embarked on his well-deserved retirement from the school, a heartfelt tribute video was lovingly crafted by his friends and family. We have preserved this cherished memento by digitizing it. This remarkable video features rare footage from both his time at Williston and Wesleyan, serving as a fitting tribute to his extraordinary career.

Emiment Service Award

Created in 1976, this award is presented to a member of the Williston Northampton School community in recognition of their extraordinary service to the school. The award was given to Rick Francis upon his retirement in 2000.

Athletic Hall of Fame Induction

At Reunion 2013, Rick Francis was inducted into Williston’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Watch the introduction to Rick given by Bob Couch ’50, as well as Rick’s remarks, below.

group of football coaches and players standing

"Time Out and Time to Remember"

Read reflections on Rick Francis submitted by alumni in the May 2000 issue of the Bulletin, published upon Rick’s retirement.

The 1963 Football Team's Perfect Season

The 1963 football team had a perfect 7-0 record under the leadership of Coach Rick Francis and captains Dick Buckley ’64 and Bob Montgomery ’64. In the first undefeated (and untied) season since 1895, the Williston Academy team was the highest scoring prep team in New England.