Francis, Muriel C. "Mimi"
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Apr. 14, 1930 - Apr. 6, 2013
Mimi C. Francis, 83, of Longboat Key, FL, died on Apr. 6, 2013.
Muriel C. Francis, an accomplished sculptor and artist, lifelong outdoorswoman, philanthropist and loving wife, mother and grandmother was known to the world as Mimi. She was born in Chicago to the late Leopold and Lulu Cohen on April 14, 1930. In 1950, Mimi graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in Literature and in 1954 she received a BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduation, Mr. Conrad Hilton hired Mimi as an architectural interior designer and established his Hilton Studio in Chicago. After designing hundreds of hotel rooms and public spaces, she founded Muriel Francis Interiors, continuing to do commercial work for several years.
After raising her two children, Mimi focused her career efforts on philanthropic work, using her entrepreneurial skills to establish and manage antique and resale shops providing significant funding for two Chicago inner city hospitals, Mt. Sinai Hospital Medical Center and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital as well as supporting the Children's Heart Research Foundation at the University of Illinois. In 2004, Mimi and her husband Paul were recognized by Access Community Health Centers for their continuing efforts in providing quality health care in Chicago. Mimi was also a longstanding benefactor of land conservation with The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin and the Catamount Center in Colorado.
Despite Mimi's career and philanthropic successes, she considered her greatest moment marrying Paul Francis on June 13, 1954 and her proudest accomplishment having raised two wonderful, loving children who followed her lead in public service and passion for the outdoors. Her passions also inspired the actions of her daughter-in-law and son-in-law whom she loved as her own children.
Mimi followed the yellow brick road all her life. Though grounded in practicality she also had a flair for the whimsical. She was an avid fan of reading adventure tales like the full Wizard of Oz and the complete Harry Potter series and loved to narrate them to her grandchildren. She was active for many years in her art studio pursuing her artistic talents in figure drawing and abstract arts. Several of her indoor and outdoor public steel sculptures are on display in the Chicago region. Along with her husband Paul, Mimi was an avid equestrian, training jumpers and riding cross-country and an accomplished white water canoe enthusiast, having paddled and camped along many rivers across the United States.
When with Mimi, one immediately recognized an uncommon sense of elegance, wisdom, and humility. She had a keen analytical mind for aesthetic and spatial detail, was curious and observant of the natural world, had a love for all animals, especially her late horse Amana, and a peaceful and calm way of reveling in life.
She is survived by: Paul Francis, her husband of 59 years; her brother Saul and his wife Carol in Arizona; her son Lee and his wife Michele of Chicago; her daughter Julie and her husband Howard of Colorado; and by her four adored grandchildren: Hannah, Laila, Skyler and Sierra.
Memorial service Thursday, April 11th, 2:00 pm, at Oak Park Temple, 1235 N. Harlem Avenue, Oak Park, IL. A reception to immediate follow at the Temple. The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, anyone interested make a donation to Erie Family Health Center, 1701 W. Superior, Chicago, Illinois 60622 and the Leopold Foundation at the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, 730 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903. Info The Goldman Funeral Group (847) 478-1600.
Published in Herald Tribune from Apr. 9 to Apr. 10, 2013