Francis T. "Fran" Patnaude

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Middletown - Francis "Fran", "Franny" T. Patnaude passed away peacefully in his own bed and at home on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. He was with his family when he took his last feisty breath in this world.

Franny was born in New Bedford, Mass., on July 3, 1925, the son of Emery Patnaude and Margaret Ward. Franny became a Middletown resident in 1939, residing with his Aunt Nora Hutton, Uncle Tom Hutton, and cousin Tom Hutton Jr. He compled his education at Middletown High school and graduated in 1943. Franny was a member of the U.S. Navy during his senior year. He participated in athletics including baseball, softball, basketball, football. After graduation, Fran earned positions on various semi-pro teams and excelled in baseball. Franny served during World War II in the Ordinance Division.

He met the love of his life, Marian (Gayara) Bednar, where they both worked at Sears and Robuck. They married on June 23, 1951, and would have celebrated 62 years together this June.

Together they raised three wonderful children who went on to marry very special people and gave Fran and Marian five beautiful grandchildren; Fran and Cathy (Russell) Patnaude of Bethlehem, both artist and teachers. Fran is department head of Rumsey Hall School and an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University while Cathy teaches in Regional District #14, parents of Nick, who currently is teaching in Ankara, Turkey, Nathan who resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Emily of Meriden, who teaches in Woodbury; Steve and Betsy(Neumann) of Columbia, S.C., where Steve teaches high school English and is a musician and Betsy, a video artist and program director for The Columbia Public Broadcast Station; also, Kathy and Greg Hancock of Old Lyme, where Kathy teaches 4th grade and both are owners of Hancock Pharmacy and Surgical of Meriden, parents of Melyssa, who will graduate May 2013 from University of Maryland Medical School as an ENT physician and Matt, who like his grandfather is an aspiring baseball catcher and will graduate from Ramapo College as a business major.

Franny loved his children and grandchildren and was so proud of all of their achievements and the people they have become.

Franny was predeceased by sisters, Dorothy Tabor and Rita Nobrega of New Bedford, Mass., and Berniece Issacson of Florida; and a brother, Joseph Patnaude also of New Bedford. Franny also leaves behind an abundance of nieces, nephews, and special lifelong friends.

Franny left Sears and began working for the City of Middletown on Sept. 16, 1963, in the Water Dept. After 28 years, he retired as assistant deputy director of Water and Sewer in 1991. Fran was a very active member of the Common Council and was first sworn in 1985. Fran has the distinction of being the longest sitting member of the Common Council, retiring in 2007 after 22 years and 11 consecutive terms. Franny sat on numerous committees including the Public Safety Commission, Contract Compliance, Citizens Advisory Committee, Welfare Commission, Middletown Preservation Review Board, Public Works Commission, Redevelopment Agency, Alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Water Pollution Control Authority and 12 years on the Personnel Review Commission where he always advocated for promotion from within. Fran also had the honor of being the longest sitting member of the previously named Senior Affairs Commission in 1985, now Senior Services, where he helped direct the city to do more for its elderly population. Fran was a strong supporter for senior citizens and supported legislation for elderly tax relief programs. He voiced his concern for the existing senior center and wanted to be sure that Middletown met the needs of its elderly population. Fran was characterized as a "feisty character with a strong determination."

Franny was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He began catching fast-pitch softball in 1950 and for the next decade played around the state in the Meriden State League and Independent Leagues in New Britain, Southington, Manchester, Wallingford, East Hartford, Mystic and Stratford, where he played for the Raybestos Cardinals. There he was a personal catcher for Hall of Famer Eddie Mikucki. Fran's nickname, based on his speed and agility, was "Jeep." Fran was very involved with the Middletown Little League for 22 years where he was a coach, player agent, and a league director. Fran was also honored with the St. Francis Xavier Award for his service to Xavier High School Athletics from 1966 to 1973. In 1986 he was Town Hall Irish Man of the Year. In 2006 he was named Elks BPOE #771 Irish Elk of the Year and Irishman of the Year by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. He was an active member of the Elks BPOE #771 Lodge where he was secretary for over 23 years. Besides his devotion to his hometown through his seat on the Common Council and civic organizations, Fran was a member of St. Francis Church.

Anyone who knew Fran would say that he certainly made a lasting impression on them and was the life of many social events. He loved his "buddies" with whom he often went to the track or played cards. At one point Fran ran a bar and grill in the North End of Middletown called, "Franny's" where he met lifelong friends. His wife, Marian, "Babe" as he would call her, stuck by his side through thick and thin, and in their retirement, they were able to remain at home with caregivers. Fran's niece, Sandra became their loving caregiver and cared for them as if they were her own parents. Special thanks to Home Instead Care, Roger, Julie, Becky, Crystal, and Alisha who provided special care to Fran, Middlesex Convalescent Center, and Middlesex Hospice and Palliative Care, and Dr. Otto Weis.

In lieu of flowers, donations may made in Franny's name to the Middletown Senior Citizens Center.

Funeral services will be held at 9:15 a.m. Friday from the Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver St., Middletown, followed by an 10 a.m. Funeral Liturgy in St. Francis of Assisi Church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m Friday at the Biega Funeral Home.

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Published in The Day on May 9, 2012
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