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Happy Birthday: El Paso woman turns 105

Elsie T. Francione was born in San Antonio, Texas on Sept 14, 1912. The El Paso woman has 13 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren.

Francione’s daughter, Sandy Ahern, says her mother’s family fled Mexico to escape the violence caused by Pancho Villa’s rebels during the Mexican Revolution.

Francione’s father went back to his job in Mexico working on trains. He was killed by an explosion caused by the rebels, Ahern said. The death was devastating, as Francione’s mother was left with no support to raise five children in the United States. The family picked cotton, washed clothing and cleaned homes in order to survive.

Francione married at the age of 22, but her husband died of a heart attack less than a year later. At the time, Francione was pregnant with her first child, Roberta.

A few years later, Francione, who suffered from ashtman, was told to move to a drier climate. She moved to El Paso, Texas in 1936, where she boarded with the nuns of Jesus and Mary.

She left to go live with a sister in California. While there, Francione her second husband, Glen, and married him in 1940. The couple had a son, Ronald. They moved to Glen’s home state of Oklahoma, and had another son, Stanley. They lived in Oklahome until Glen was drafted into the army.

Francione’s asthma was becoming a problem in Oklahoma, so while her husband was fighting in the war, she moved back to El Paso in 1943, Ahern said. Francione’s husband joined her after the war and they made El Paso their home. They had a daughter, Sandra.

Glen died from kidney disease in 1951. This disease also killed his mother and two brothers. Francione was left alone to raise four children and worked various jobs until she was employed by the federal government with the National Labor Relations Board. She advanced from GS1 to GS13 when she retired as a field examiner from the board in 1972, Ahern said.

In 1970, her son Ronald died from the inherited kidney disease, leaving beind a wife and two young children.

In 1977, Francione married El Pasoan Emmitt Francione. They were married for more than 15 years until he died from a second stroke.

Throughout her life in El Paso, Francione volunteered in many organizations, including USO, Catholic Daughters, Ladies of Charity, Ladies Guild of Queen of Peace Church, and Vincent de Paul.

Ahern said her mother has been living in the same home since 1963 and is cared for by two “amazing and loving caretakers.”

“Her strong faith, astute intelligence, physical activity in gardening, yoga and Tai Chi, independence, sense of humor and dedication to charitable activities has kept her involved and vibrant,” Ahern said, “Our family is honored this amazing woman has been a strong role model in many aspects and a loving presence.”

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