In memory of

Thomas E. “Duke” Francis age 96 of Helena

September 12, 1922 – February 11, 2019

Thomas “Duke” Francis, age 96, passed away peacefully, Monday February 11,2019.

Duke was born and raised in Helena in the sixth ward. He graduated from Helena High in 1941. Duke married Ruth Gray, his high school sweetheart, on October 16, 1942. In February of 1943, Duke entered the Army/Signal Corp for his country, serving in the south pacific until being honorably discharged in 1945. Upon returning to Helena, Duke began his career with the railroad. In 1946, Duke’s daughter, Sherry joined the family.

In the mid 60’s, the family moved to Canyon Ferry Lake. They enjoyed life at the lake for over 20 years.

Duke had many interests, including: remote controlled airplanes and his passion for basketball, especially the Duke Blue Devils. He enjoyed being able to take the honor flight to Washington D.C.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Marie; his wife, Ruth; brother, Bob; sisters, Betty Jo and Bev; and special friend, Bessie.

Duke is survived by his daughter, Sherry; grandchildren, Aimee and Jeff; great grandchildren, Dylan, Devin (Kendall), and Alyssa; not forgetting numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, February 19 at Retz Funeral Home, 315 East 6th Ave. A Graveside Service with military honors will follow at Montana State Veterans Cemetery.  Please join the family for a reception at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Social Hall, 3570 N. Montana Ave. following the graveside service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Duke’s name to Shriner’s Hospital for Children, c/o Algeria Shrine Temple, PO Box 4879, Helena, MT 59604, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by visiting: , or to a charity of one’s choosing. Please visit below to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Duke.


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  1. Bernard E. Mues says

    Duke was a brave WWII U.S. Army soldier, one of America’s last “Great Generation, & always a quiet “Prince” of a guy. All love to Duke’s whole extended family.

  2. Peggy LeBkanc says

    From the Margaret Dunn LeBlanc family here in New Orleans, including Charles, Alice, Peggy, Kathy, Sue, Johnny and Patrick, we extends our deepest condolences to Duke’s family. Our mother spoke fondly of her nephew Duke. Perhaps their proximity in age lent itself to her fondness for all of Marie’s children whom she surely played with when she and they were children. We all here remember our visits to the “lake”. What a great, long life he enjoyed!

  3. Raynold Kunnary says

    “Duke” as he was called was a great man. I worked at Crossroads Health Club and that is how I met him. He was a inspiration to all that knew him..
    What a great man and what a great loss to us all.
    God Bless you “Duke” until we meet again.
    Mary & Matt

  4. Jack and Tom Walsh says

    Duke was a awesome guy, we became neighbors with Duke and Ruth at Canyon Ferry they were both greatest of neighbors we could ever get … due to some unforeseen circumstances we were unable to attend the services. My dad was able to be with Duke on the Honor Flight back in 2013. Our condolences go out to Sherrie , Jeff and Aimee and all the nieces and nephews from the lake.

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