Family member, fisherman, gardener and friend Francis Anton Williamson, 95, of Baker City, Oregon, left us on May 24, after living what he often said was a great life with no regrets. Francis was a breath of positivity and beloved by many. He will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.
Francis was born to Anton and Minnie Williamson on October 12, 1925, in David City Nebraska, he was the oldest boy of nine children. His father worked as a sharecropper before they packed up the family in an old “Oakland” Flatbed Truck and headed west. They settled in Bourne, Oregon in 1940, where his father began work in the gold mines. Francis would sometimes tell the story of the snow being so deep around their house in Bourne that they would have to jump out an upstairs window. After a few years in Bourne, the family moved to Baker City, Oregon.
At the age of 18, Francis joined the military to defend our country in the Second World War. A dedicated and skilled soldier, he received an award for being a “Sharp-Shooter" while in Basic Training. During the war, he fought in Okinawa, and the South Pacific Theatre. He had some close calls; once, lightning struck near his foxhole and completely paralyzed him for a short time. Another time, a live mortar shell landed Just a few feet from him but fortunately did not explode. He was honorably discharged after the war ended, with the rank of Staff Sergeant. Francis was "very happy to be heading home and thanked GOD that he was alive."
Upon returning from the war, he married the love of his life, Margaret, and they welcomed a son, Robert, and a daughter, Kathy into the world. A talented carpenter,
Francis built the home where he and Margaret raised their family and he continued to live for over 65 years, a happy house that remains full of love to this day. He spent 44 years working in the local lumber industry, first at the Oregon Lumber Co. as a lumber sorter, then as a box car loader and dry kiln operator for the Burnt River Lumber Co/Ellingson Lumber Company.
Francis didn't slow down after retiring. He continued to socialize, run the shuffleboard table, and serve his community through the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) the "Eagles” and the Catholic Church. He loved camping and fishing, and you could often find him on his boat or bank fishing somewhere enjoying an Old Milwaukee with family members, just happy to be out, whether catching fish or not. When not at Unity Reservoir or Phillips Lake, you might find him with his grandchildren in the garage, endlessly taking things apart just so they could rebuild them together. He took pride in working on his property at "The Gulch”, building bridges, waterwheels and beloved swing sets that made family barbecues and reunions that much more special.
Francis had a wonderful, supportive family and looked forward to his regular visitors in recent years. He spent the majority of his life in a close-knit neighborhood with his sister two houses away, his brother right next door, and his mother only four blocks away.
Family was important to him and Francis especially enjoyed meeting several cousins from Holland who traveled to Oregon for a visit. Francis’ parents had immigrated from Holland, through Ellis Island, to the United States in the early 1920s.
Francis remained resilient, positive, and hardworking throughout his life. After a severe, life threatening stroke in 2018, he set a personal goal of returning home and remaining independent. After a mere 3 months in assisted living at the "Bee-Hive” and with excellent staff help, he was able to obtain his goal of returning home. At 92, he was proud to get his driver's license renewed for another 8 years. Even in his 90s, he took pride in maintaining his lawn and garden areas and caring for his dog. He was truly a great man, and he will be forever missed by his family and many friends.
Francis was preceded in death by his parents, Anton Henry & Wilhelmina "Minnie" Williamson; wife, Margaret (Curtiss) Williamson; brothers, Leo (Frances) Williamson & John Williamson; sisters, Mary (Andy) DeVos & Anne (Don) Wickert; sister-in-law, Pat Williamson; brother-in-law, Harry Sagendorf; nephew, John Leo Williamson; and several canine companions.
He is survived by his children, Robert (Linda) Williamson & Kathy (Tom) Fisk; grandchildren Erin (Jordan Wilson) Williamson, Matt (Kara Fink) Fisk , Jennie (Matt Walker) Williamson, & Scott (Laura Helgerson) Fisk; great grandchildren, Nolan & Tyson Arvat, Emrys & Henning Fisk; brothers, Tony & Don Williamson; sisters, Margaret (Don) Sagendorf & Shirley Sagendorf; many nieces, nephews, and cousins, and his canine friend Martie.
Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, Oregon on Saturday, May 29, 2021, Father Suresh Kumar Telagani officiated.
A graveside interment with military honors will be held on June 1, 2021, at Mt. Hope Cemetery beginning at 10:00 AM.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Legion, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, or to a charity of one's choice through Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
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