The family of Donald Conrad Francois is saddened to announce his passing on Feb. 10, 2023. He was 92.
Donald was preceded in death by his parents, Conrad Francois, and Eva Joseph Francois, and by his older brothers Pedrito, Elmo and Frank. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Faye McIntosh Francois, and his daughters Denise Francois and Monique Francois, and many, many relatives, and friends too numerous to mention.
Born and raised on St. Thomas, Donald graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1949. He left St. Thomas to attend Howard University. Compelled to serve his country, his studies were interrupted by service in the United States Air Force from 1950 to 1954. After graduating in 1959 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, Donald moved his young family to Seattle, Washington, where he began his career in the aeronautic and aerospace industry, first working for the Boeing Airline Company. After moving to California, to a part of the Bay area that would later become known as Silicon Valley, Donald worked for the Lockheed Missile and Space Company and United Technology Center where he rose to the position of Lead Engineer and Section Chief responsible for the quality and reliability or all flight components and support equipment on the Titan III-C Program.
From 1961 to 1969, in recognition of his skill and intelligence as an engineer, Donald was dispatched to various military bases and civilian airplane companies to assist in airplane manufacturing and maintenance.
While living in San Jose and working full time, Donald returned to school to study industrial management at San Jose State. He was also enrolled at Lincoln Law School in San Jose for two years.
In 1969, Donald returned home to the Virgin Islands with his family. Upon returning home, he was the assistant director and then director of Natural Resources from 1969 to 1981 at what was then known as the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs. During that time, he formulated air pollution control standards and shoreline management policies for Virgin Islands industries including Hess Oil, Martin Marietta Alumina and the V.I. Water and Power Authority. He also established pesticide control programs and developed water testing laboratories, including formulating, and implementing all of the necessary rules and regulations. During the same time period, he authored and co-authored numerous related publications which are still referenced today.
In 1981, he began his career at the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority as director of engineering and advanced to the positions of chief operating officer and then assistant executive director. Donald was responsible for all aspects of engineering associated with the distribution and transmission of power and the water desalination plants. He designed the first underground electrical system and negotiated and managed all phases of submarine cable installations between St. Thomas, St. John, Water and Hassel Islands. He also spearheaded the procurement and installation of an energy efficient combined cycle system of gas turbine and water heat recovery boilers for the St. Croix and St. Thomas power plants.
While at WAPA, Donald also led the effort to remove and dispose of the asbestos from the turbines and transformers. He designed and implemented the electronic meter recording system for electricity and water. Between 1987 and 1988, he directed the transfer of the potable water system from the Department of Public Works to WAPA.
Upon his retirement in 1994, Donald returned to assist with the restoration effort after the devastation of Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. His engineering consulting service provided project management to construction projects undertaken by local and off-island companies. He continued to publish technical reports on many topics but most noteworthy in the area of water management. He was also a part-time instructor of production control management at the University of the Virgin Islands.
After his retirement, Donald also served on the WAPA Board of Directors from 2006 until 2015.
Nov. 28, 2012, was proclaimed Donald C. Francois Day in the United States Virgin Islands by then Gov. John P. DeJongh, Jr. in recognition of Donald’s selfless service to the Virgin Islands in the field of engineering, energy and public service. On Dec. 5, 2012, in honor of his contributions to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, its state-of-the-art electrical substation in Long Bay was named the Donald C. Francois Substation.
After he retired, Donald served on the Catholic Church Parish Council. Starting in 2001, he advised then Monsignor Jerome Feudjio on various structural planning phases of the restoration of Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral (where he also once served as an altar boy). In recognition of his service and contributions as a parishioner of Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Donald received the Keys and Sword Award in January 2015 from the Diocese of St. Thomas.
The family wishes to thank and extend their endless gratitude and appreciation to Yevone Harrigan, Chanmoni Beechan, Ridge Richards, Beanka Beechan, Robert Hakim, and nurse Susana Lake, who comforted and helped Donald and his family during his illness.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the viewing at the Celestial Chapel of Dan Hurley Home for Funerals, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. A Mass of Christian burial will be held Thursday, March 2, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Interment, Western Cemetery No. 1.
Arrangements are under the care of Dan Hurley Home for Funerals and Cremation Centers of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.
For online condolences and directions, please visit: www.hurleydavisfuneral home.com
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