Gardner’s chief of Police, Kenneth Allen Francis, 66, passed away Sept. 14, 2012 at Olathe Medical Center, surrounded by his wife and loved ones.
Kenny was born in St. Joseph, Mo. on Sept. 6, 1946 to Harry and Alice Marguerite (Cornell) Francis.
The talks he had as a “very young person” with the policeman who worked down the street from his parents’ grocery store first attracted him to his eventual career choice. He graduated high school in 1964, and attended the University of Virginia, the University of Missouri and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam and joined the Missouri Air National Guard and trained as an air policeman.
Over 35 years ago he went to work for the Gladstone Missouri Police Department. Chief Francis went on to command departments in Trenton, Sikeston and Gladstone, Mo. before moving to Gardner in 1987 to become its Police Chief.
Kenny married Patricia Marotta on Sept. 4, 1987 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Chief Francis was drawn to this work in an effort to make a difference, especially cases of reuniting a lost child with his or her parents or comforting someone dealing with the loss of a loved one or an accident. He felt the citizens of Gardner were very supportive of his service to the city. He once said the key to successful law enforcement is a cup of coffee. People may not be willing to discuss their concerns at the police station, but they are always willing to sit down and talk to the chief at the local coffee shop.
Chief Francis was the 2002 recipient of the Clarence M. Kelley Award, which is presented to a criminal justice executive in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, honoring their proactive approach and dedication to improving the criminal justice system.
Chief Francis is the past president of the Johnson County Police Chiefs, past president of the FBI National Academy Associates, past president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Assoc., past president of the metropolitan Police Chiefs’ and Sheriffs’ Association. He served on various committees with the International Assoc. of Chiefs of Police, was Chairman of the advisory board to Criminal Justice Studies at JCCC, and was a past president of the Gardner Lions.
He was an avid race car fan. Chief Francis will be deeply missed by his family, friends and community. His dedicated service to the community will always be remembered.
Chief Francis was preceded in death by his parents.
Kenny is survived by his wife of 25 years, Patty, of the home. Also surviving are his sons Harry Francis and wife Lisa and their children Jordan and Mitchell, all of Kansas City, Mo.; son David Francis, North Kansas City, Mo.; daughter Leigh Francis and her children Justin and Lillie, all of North Kansas City; son Patrick Armato and wife Carley and their children Kiera and Elayna, all of Gardner; sister Penny Reil and husband James and nephew Eric; mother-in-law Phyllis Marotta; brothers-in-law Frank Marotta and wife Mary and Jim Marotta and wife Dena; aunt Mary Frances Accurso; aunt and uncle Mike and Rosemary Arnone; and nieces Anna, Amanda and Angelica Marotta.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Sept. 21, 2012 in the Main Sanctuary of the Church of the Nazarene, 2020 E Sheridan, Olathe, KS 66062. Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sept. 20, 2012 also in the Main Sanctuary at the church. Burial at Gardner Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Gardner Gold Special Olympics. Condolences may be left at www.brucefuneralhome.com.