Farewell John Francis

John Francis retires after 36 years, -30-

Diego Crespo, Opinion Editor

Since its inception, Rio Hondo College has seen students come and go, making an impact in their lives and forever shaping their future. Few students have had their adult lives guided by the school like Professor John Francis.

The 20th student to enroll in Rio Hondo, Francis has spent 50 years of his life on this school campus.

He was heavily involved as the sports information director in 1969 for a dozen years for sports publicity, and covered over 130 football games and more than 300 basketball games. And that doesn’t include the countless coverage he gave to other sports, such as wrestling, baseball, cross country, golf and many others.

Francis spent three years in the Theater Department, which makes sense, given some of his passions outside of school are acting and theater arts.

He also spent two years in the Speech Department, coaching the speech team and teaching the speech class.

In 1980, Francis began his career at Rio Hondo where he would spend over 30 years teaching more than 7,000 students. Needless to say, Francis has had his share of interactions with students and faculty on campus.

When asked about what type of impact Francis felt the school had on him and vice versa, he stated, “It’s had an impact on my life, obviously. I’ve been here forever. I love the people here. I don’t think there was a day that I ever woke up sad, because I always knew I was going to work. How many times can you have a job like that?”

Current Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyles editors for El Paisano Pete Escobar, Crystian Mendoza and Natalie Solano, respectively, had parting words for Francis.

Escobar stated, “It’s going to be tough filling in his shoes when he’s gone; he’s had an immense amount of experience and it is made clear through his teachings. It’s truly been an honor to have worked with him at El Paisano.

Mendoza carried the same train of thought, “John has been a great role model and has helped my writing improve since I first started writing for El Paisano in Fall 2015. I’m also thankful for the opportunity he gave me to be the sports editor this semester,” he continued “he fundamentals he taught me will definitely carry over into the next chapter of my life in regards to print media. When I think of journalism at Rio Hondo, all I think of is John Francis and the mark he has left at this school.”

“He cared for students, even outside of the classroom and wants to see all of his students succeed even if it wasn’t in journalism.” Solano said.

However, if future students pursue a career in journalism, things may work out in their favor. David Perez, another former student of Francis and Rio Hondo for example, pursued a career in journalism and is a winner of the Golden Mic Award.

On May 5, a retirement party was held for Francis where family, faculty and several students gathered to honor the beloved teacher. The impact the school left on Francis was vast, but the influence he left on the lives he touched cannot be quantified.

Current professor of Mass Communications and former Rio Hondo student Wendy Carrera explained that by having Francis as a teacher, she was able to successfully pursue a career in journalism before she, herself, returned to teach at Rio Hondo.

As people of all ages stood up to give a speech to honor the professor, it became clear: the school had not merely become better with Francis’ involvement, the people whose lives he had entered were exponentially changed for the better, as well.

Technical Advisor, and another former student of Francis, James Tapparo said “It’s been a pleasure and honor working with John for the last 15 years. He’s been a mentor and a father figure to me. Not having John’s presence in my daily routine will take some getting used to. I’ve seen John at work several times every week for years and definitely more than I see my own family. The various newspaper staff and John have become surrogate families over the years. A bond develops unlike any that you can get anywhere else.”

“The thing I’m going to miss more than anything else is the students. My friends, the faculty, the administrators and stuff like that. We’ve had some bad administrators and we’ve had good ones. And let’s face it, not everybody likes me and that’s okay. The thing is that I’ve dealt with all of these people. I was editor of El Paisano. My son was editor of El Paisano. So, you know, everything just fits into place and I’m going to miss it.” Francis said.