Francis Elmer Heydt passed on November 25, 2008, in Kansas City, Kan. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in late October. Francis was always proud to claim he was a 1918 baby. Born in Wellington, Kan., his family moved to Wichita, Kan., a couple of years later. Before graduating from Wichita North High School, he was a member of the City swim team. That led him to the University of Michigan where he became a three-time National Champion in 1940 and 1941. He worked his way through college by any means of employment he could get. He met Virginia Lee Williams while working as a lifeguard at Mission Hills Country Club in Kansas City. They were married on November 16, 1940, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Upon Graduation with a degree in Business Administration, they moved to Kansas City. He started his career working for the Jones Store. In 1944, he and Virginia started their own clothing store, Lee's Men and Boys Store in Mission, Kansas. Simultaneously, Francis worked as a traveling salesman covering Kansas, Nebraska and western Missouri. In 1956, the family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where they purchased a larger clothing store. In 1959, they sold the store and purchased a small clothing factory in Oswego, Kansas. Shortly thereafter, they built the Glenn Berry factory in Commerce, Oklahoma. He operated these factories successfully until 1985. During the 25 years that he operated these factories, he opened seven additional factories in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. His reputation spread and foreign governments employed him as their clothing manufacturer and consultant. Francis would sell to Israel, come home and get a new passport then go to Libya and sell the same thing to them. He sold much more than clothing to several countries including: airport runway sweepers, dog tag making machines, file cabinets, batteries, pipelines and airplanes.
Virginia preceded him in death in 2004. From the marriage came five children, Francis Lee (Hasty) died at age 23 in 1964, and Virginia Lee Jr. (Ginger) died at age 27 in 1979.
He leaves three surviving children, Thomas N. of Springfield, Mo., James T. of Loveland, Colorado, and Robert M. of Miami, Oklahoma, 13 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and a whole multitude of friends not only locally, but world-wide.
Through work he traveled extensively visiting over 80 different countries. If asked, he would tell you he had been supporting himself since he was 9. In fact, he bought the family's first car when he was 11. He left home after high school and never looked back. He was proud to say at 90, he was still working everyday. One of his favorite pastimes was picking up change for his retirement pension at different McDonald's drive-thru windows. He said he had done this in at least 75 different countries.
Francis never forgot his love for for The University of Michigan. He often commented that everything he did or amounted to in his life he owed to MICHIGAN. He supported Michigan Athletics and attends one or two football games every year. He loved it when Michigan beat ohio state.
Even though death was imminent, when a nurse or doctor asked if he/she could do anything for him he would always say, “Just SMILE.”
He was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church attending All Saints' Episcopal Church in Miami for 50 years.
Memorial services will be 11:31 a.m. Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Miami. Burial will follow in G.A.R. Cemetery in Miami.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the All Saints' Episcopal Church Memorial Fund or to the American Cancer Society.