John Francis Jr. of Arlington, formerly of Edgartown and Waltham, died peacefully with his family by his side on Jan. 22.

He was the loving husband of the late Natalie (Correia) Francis, with whom he shared 52 years of marriage.

He was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, son of the late John Francis and Rita (DeBeech) Francis. His paternal grandparents were natives of the island of San Miguel, Azores. His maternal ancestors were French Canadian. His childhood on Martha’s Vineyard shaped his lifelong love of the ocean, fishing, and artwork. He was an only child who captured the attention of his parents as well as his adoring grandmother Mary (Mamie) (Vieira) Francis, and his extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. As a boy, John was known as Junior in honor of his namesake father. The elder Mr. Francis was known as Dempsey, after the famous boxer, a nickname John fondly inherited as an adult.

John graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard High School in 1951 and joined the U.S. Navy shortly after. While serving in the Navy on the U.S.S. Ft. Ticonderoga for a four-year tour of duty, he was stationed in Brooklyn, N.Y., Haiti, the United Kingdom, and other locations. After serving his country, he was honorably discharged in 1955 and returned to his home on Martha’s Vineyard. Soon after his return, he was employed as a bartender in Edgartown, where, as family legend goes, he served drinks to Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and other icons of the era. It was also at this time that John met his future bride, Natalie Correira, and moved to Boston to complete his art degree at the Massachusetts College of Art.

John and Natalie became engaged in 1957 and were married on Sept. 13, 1958 at Natalie’s home church in Allston. Their eldest son Stephen John was born one year after their wedding. Within a few short years they were further blessed with the birth of Paul Anthony and John Michael. John and Natalie proudly raised their three boys in Waltham with both playing active roles in their lives. John was a longtime Little League coach and an ever-present supporter on the side lines at football and ice hockey games. Summers were filled with working and trips to the Vineyard to enjoy summertime activities with Natalie, the boys, and extended family.

After watching their family expand to include seven grandchildren, John and Natalie sold their home in Waltham and retired to the Vineyard. Those were glorious years filled with summers on the beach and great times with treasured friends and cousins. John quietly enjoyed the flurry of activities organize by Natalie, including the annual Fourth of July parades and fireworks, clam bakes on the beach, Thanksgiving in Texas, Christmas in Pepperell, and the annual Francis Easter egg coloring contest. The consummate host, John always opened his home to guests and made sure they quickly had their favorite cold beverage and a comfortable seat for an enjoyable visit. In later years on the Vineyard he was not as active, but he took great care in tending to beautiful annual gardens and his assorted bird houses. Many afternoons were spent on his deck enjoying the beauty of his flowers, the soft sound of birds and the fresh smell of the Vineyard air.

In his later years, John miraculously survived an automobile accident that took the life of Natalie while driving home from their winter residence in Sanibel, Fla. He overcame serious injuries and was confined to a wheelchair, but in his final years, he maintained his positive outlook on life and always put the needs of others above his own. His common response when asked how he was feeling was “I feel like a million bucks.” He never complained. He was a beloved resident of the Bright View Assisted Living community, where he enjoyed all the staff and the activities, especially the watercolor classes and social events. He enjoyed his weekly excursions away from Bright View, commonly at Salvatore’s in Medford, where he became a favorite patron. His everlasting legacy is that of man of kindness, one who never spoke a negative word about another person, and above all, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

He is survived by his oldest son, Stephen Francis and his wife Carol of Wakefield and his middle son, Paul Francis of Dallas, Tex. He was predeceased by his youngest son and daughter in law, John Michael Francis and Kimberly (Dufresne) Francis, of Pepperell. He is also survived by his seven beloved grandchildren: Paul Francis, Allison Vuckovich, Emily Francis, John Adiletto, John Curtis Francis, Claire Francis, and Kathryn Francis.

A funeral mass was held on Friday, Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Jude’s Church in Waltham. Interment was private.

Memorials in his name may be made to The ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter, 685 Canton St., Suite 103, Norwood, MA 02062

An online tribute is available at