After a long, eventful life, Ladislas "Ladis" Francuz passed away Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. During his 90 years, he always forged his own path.
Ladis was born June 30, 1923, in Lens, France, of Polish parents. He was just a teenager when the Germans ordered him to board a train in Paris and report to Germany to be a conscripted laborer. He did not comply. It was only later, after threats were made against his family, that he submitted.
It was not long before he escaped, journeyed through Belgium and returned to his home in Bretigny. When the Americans of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 22nd Infantry Regiment came through his hometown on their way to Paris, he volunteered to help reconnoiter French villages in their sweep. They welcomed him, put him in an American uniform, and they pushed deep into Germany.
After all French civilians working with the Americans were ordered to return to France, Ladis joined the French paratroopers and served with the French occupation forces in Germany.
After the war, he married Ann Marie Kaminski from Belgium, made a new home in Arpajon, France, and completed a four-year painting apprenticeship there, achieving the ranking of registered artisan.
It was a tough go in postwar France, so Ladis decided he could provide for his young family better by accepting an offer of sponsorship to the U.S. made by a friend he made during his reconnaissance assignments. This was the fork in his life that brought him to Idaho Falls.
His languages were French and Polish. His English was just about nonexistent. He spoke, however, through his excellent painting and finishing work. After a year here, he was able to bring his wife and young daughter, Lili, over from France. Ladis became a naturalized citizen in 1959.
Since 1954, except for about seven years in Rochester, N.Y., and Fort Collins, Colo., he has made his home in Idaho Falls.
There are many here who remember Ladis not only for his fine work but also his "jousting" style of repartee. His was a strong spirit all along the way. He was never afraid to take the next step.
He is survived by his daughter, Lili Francuz, and his son-in-law, Michael Loughlin of Fort Collins, Colo.; brother-in-law, Valentine Kaminski of Galveston, Texas; sister-in-law, Christiane Francuz of Le Vesinet, France; sister-in-law, Josette Francuz of Chatou, France; nieces, Elizabeth Francuz and Dany Herve; nephews, Dominique and Erique Zybrad, all in France; and his close friend, Yvette Kiefer.
His spouse, Ann Marie, his parents, two brothers and a sister preceded him in death.
A celebration of Ladis' life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Wood Funeral Home, 273 N. Ridge Ave. in Idaho Falls.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.woodfuneralhome.com.