Genealogy researcher Pedrito Francois is being remembered for his dedication to preserving St. Thomas family history.
“Pedrito was a great genealogy researcher, who, painstakingly over the years, developed a library of family trees of all the past and present leading families of St. Thomas, which he kindly shared with fellow researchers,” according to a statement from Sophia Aubin, president of the Caribbean Genealogy Library’s Board of Directors.
Francois, who was laid to rest last week, died on Aug. 17 at the age of 99. Friends said his death came a week after the memorial service of his son and caretaker, Conrad “Ricky” Francois II. The former executive director for the V.I. Housing Authority and V.I. Lottery, Conrad Francois was credited with improving both agencies and died on July 14 at age 69. The elder Francois was born on Moravian Hill on the western end of St. Thomas in 1921. He was the valedictorian of the Class of 1939 of Charlotte Amalie High School, which observed its 100th anniversary last month.
Pedrito Francois attended Howard University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1943 and a Master of Science in public health from the University of Minnesota in 1947. He spent his career working for the Virgin Islands government, retiring in 1984 from his last post, which was assistant commissioner of Public Works.
His career culminated with the design and construction of a wastewater treatment system for the territory, and Francois was awarded the Environmental Protection Association Award in 1984 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association Gold Award in 2009 for his contributions to public health in the Virgin Islands and the Eastern Caribbean.
The St. Thomas wastewater treatment plant is named for Francois.
Following his retirement, Francois continued his public service through his work as a founding member of the Caribbean Genealogy Library, and served on the board of directors for at least a decade.
“His generosity helped CGL stay current with technology and created the opportunity for using online research tools in our early years.
“His greatest contributions were in research and genealogy of local families,” according to the statement from Aubin.
“He was a patriarch of CGL, and a kind man who is sorely missed.”