August 14, 1940 – January 25, 2022
“This is a story of a man who was born many years ago when there was peace upon the land.” Those are the words of a creative, storytelling man when he attempted to write his own life history. This man was known as James Niel Francom, who passed away on January 25, 2022 at the age of 81 in the Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Utah. He died from natural causes due to old age and pneumonia. He was born on August 14, 1940 in Payson, Utah to James Derwin Francom and Velma Olive Hutchings. Niel came into this world in style as he was born in a cement house, where his grandma Hutchings delivered him. Coincidentally, the house he was born in those many years ago was only a very short distance from the hospital where he passed away. I guess you can say, his life came full circle, and his love for his hometown, Payson, drew him back home.
Niel was the 4th of 9 children, and had a deep love for his family. He was raised on a farm and worked hard hauling hay, weeding gardens, and feeding animals. Niel was a darling boy with striking, crystal blue eyes, and he sure grew up to become a handsome young man! In high school, he played the clarinet, was in a choir, and scored high on an IQ test. He graduated from Payson High in 1958.
As a young man, Niel joined the military in October of 1958 and served on a naval ship as a Navy Corpsman. He had dreams of seeing the world, but to his disappointment, the ship never left the coast of California. He served in the Navy for 4 years. Prior to serving in the Navy, Niel met his sweetheart, Jeanette Mathews, in March of 1957, when he picked her out of a car full of girls because she looked like Doris Day. Though Niel told Jeanette that he wouldn’t date anyone more than three times because he didn’t believe in going steady, somehow they ended up getting married anyway on April 22, 1961 in the Manti Utah Temple, for time and all eternity. Over the next several years, Neil and Jeanette became the parents of 8 children.
Niel’s working career took many turns as he and Jeanette raised their growing family. Niel worked as a Highway Patrolman in California; attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in hopes of becoming a school teacher; and eventually, became a Journeyman Electrician after working many varied jobs. Niel always worked hard to provide for his large family, and he believed in doing good, quality work. The changes in Niel’s career and jobs took him and his family to many places, including Long Beach, CA; Payson, UT; Gunnison, CO; Fresno, CA; Indio, CA; Delta, UT; Oak City, UT; and Grantsville, UT. Niel was a small town boy at heart who felt more comfortable in overalls. He wouldn’t be Niel without his overalls.
Niel had many talents. He could fix about anything from an old car to a kitchen sink. He was an excellent carpenter, which greatly benefited his family. He was an exceptional cook. Niel’s chicken noodle soup was a family favorite – it was mesmerizing to watch him make the homemade noodles. Niel also loved music and enjoyed playing the guitar, singing, and yodeling, which brought a lot of joy to his family. His favorite pastime was watching westerns and Sci-Fi’s on TV and going to the movies, which always included popcorn and Jordan Almonds. He appreciated scenic drives where he liked looking at old barns and sunflowers as they grew spontaneously in the fields and alongside the road.
As a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Niel had a love of the scriptures and of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He not only believed the teachings of Christ, he acted upon them. It wasn’t uncommon for him to give a stranger a ride, provide aid to the homeless and destitute, and defend the weak. Niel had a compassionate and tender heart towards people and animals.
A few years after the passing of his beloved wife, Jeanette, Niel was taken under the protective wing of his daughter, Janice, and her husband, Rick, and their family who provided exceptional, tender, loving care, until he returned to his heavenly home.
Niel passed away peacefully, eager to be with his eternal companion, Jeanette, once again. He is deeply loved by his children, grandchildren, friends and family. He is known for his larger than life personality, warm friendly smile, and contagious laugh. Niel was a friend to all, and he will be greatly missed!
Niel is survived by his children: Roger (Dana) Francom, Grantsville, Utah; Denise (Alan) Baldy, Grantsville, Utah; Christine (Tom) McMahon, Grantsville, Utah; David (Gina) Francom, Grantsville, Utah; Melissa (Laef) Wallin, Grace, Idaho; Janice (Rick) Helm, Grantsville, Utah; Michelle (Ken) Holm, Riverton, Utah; Darin (Felicia) Francom, Saratoga Springs, Utah. 30 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren; brothers: Don (Barbara) Francom, Evanston, Wyoming; Norman (Charlene) Francom, West Bountiful, Utah; Quentin (Kristine) Francom, Genola, Utah; Paul (Ruth) Francom, Santaquin, Utah; Sisters: Kathy (Terry) Powers, Mapleton, Utah; Diana (Dennis) Harward, Salem, Utah; He was preceded in death by his wife: Jeanette Mathews Francom; father: James Derwin Francom; mother: Velma Olive Hutchings Francom Holden; brother: Richard Dee Francom; sister: Rita Velate Francom Jessup and son-in-law, David (Davey) Raphael Dunn.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2022 at 11 AM in the Grantsville 3rd Ward, 428 So. Hale St., Grantsville, Ut 84029. Viewings will be held on Friday evening from 6-8 PM and Saturday morning 9:30-10:30 AM prior to services Both at the church. Burial will follow in the Grantsville City Cemetery with US Navy Honors.
Arrangements in care of Dalton-Hoopes Funeral Home. 435-884-3031
Live streaming of the funeral will begin just prior to 11AM…..