Bernard Francque, a beloved husband, father, and brother and a longtime Geneseo community leader, died on Thursday, December 19, 2019, in Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo. He was 77.
Bernard was born in Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo, Illinois on March 6, 1942, to Albert Francque and Margaret (Wyffels) Francque, farmers in the Geneseo area. His paternal and maternal grandparents immigrated to America from Belgium. Bernard worked on his family’s farm growing up, attending the one-room Spring Creek schoolhouse - down the road from the farm - through fifth grade when the school closed. He excelled as a member of the Geneseo High School football team. During his senior year, in 1959, the team went undefeated and he was named to the Illinois all-state team. In October 2019 Bernard was inducted into the Geneseo High School Hall of Fame due to his football achievements and community contributions. In 1960 he graduated from Geneseo High School and went on to attend Black Hawk College. Bernard served in the US Army Reserves in the 1960s.
On August 8, 1964, Bernard married Carole Clifford at St. Malachy Catholic Church, and then moved into the house (on the farm that he bought when he was 22 years old) outside of Geneseo that remains the family home to this day. Mr. and Mrs. Francque had seven children. Bernard was a lifelong farmer and active member of St. Malachy Catholic Church, including serving as a trustee and in other roles. He also served on the school boards for the Geneseo school district and St. Malachy Catholic School. In addition, Bernard served as a board member for 18 years for Abilities Plus, which serves individuals with disabilities at all ages, and was an active volunteer for decades for Misericordia Heart of Mercy, a home for disabled children and adults and where his son, Justin, lives. He was also an original investor and served as a board member for the Patriot Ethanol Plant in Annawan, Illinois, Bernard was also an investor in Geneseo Feed and Grain and particularly enjoyed the challenge of revitalizing the old Purina Feed Mill.
Bernard had many interests. In addition to his strong belief and commitment in supporting the Geneseo community and beyond, Bernard also loved to have fun, listening to music - rock, country, and the blues, working on old tractors and cars, spending time with his family, longtime friends, and dogs (especially Sid and Abbey), helping and mentoring people, searching for arrowheads on his farm and discussing geopolitical and economic issues. He was a fierce advocate for his disabled son, Justin, and loved spending time with him on the farm and on the road back and forth between Geneseo and Misericordia in Chicago, where Justin lives. In addition, Bernard served as a consultant for the US Department of Agriculture’s program in which the US advises countries that were part of the former Soviet Union on modern farming techniques, spending time in the country of Moldova.
Bernard cared deeply about working hard and trying to do the right thing - not for any recognition that may come from it - and emphasizing this to his children. Among many other memories, his children recall their dad underscoring the importance of family and working out problems, which they did through the weekly family council meeting. During the raucous weekly meeting each person shared the good and bad of the previous week, the chores for the upcoming week
were assigned and family issues were aired and resolved. As Bernard’s illness progressed over the last few months, he received extraordinary care and support from his family and friends on a daily basis.
A Funeral Mass was held to celebrate Bernard’s life at 10:30 AM on Monday, December 23, 2019, at St. Malachy Catholic Church, Geneseo, followed by a luncheon in the church recreational hall. Father Michael Pakula celebrated the mass. Inurnment will be at Spring Creek Cemetery, Atkinson (located next to Francque Farms), at a later date.
Vandemore Funeral Homes & Crematory, Geneseo Chapel, is assisting the family with arrangements. Memorials may be directed to Misericordia Heart of Mercy, St. Malachy School and Abilities Plus.
Bernard is survived by his wife, Carole; daughters, Jennifer Morelli, Chicago, Jessie (Mike Brode) Francque, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jackie (John) Peters, Geneseo; sons, Joel (Heather) Francque, Geneseo, Jason Francque, Chicago, James (Cynthia) Francque, Park Ridge, Illinois, Justin Francque, Chicago; ten grandchildren, Nathan Francque, Lindsey Francque, Jack Francque, Leo Francque, Maria Francque, Elias Francque, Josie Peters, Lucy Peters, Tajah Brode and Rakim Brode; and sisters, Marilyn Hultman, Diane Francque and Kathy Francque, all from Geneseo.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Margaret, and his brother, Michael Francque.