Karl Earvil Francis, 84
Karl Earvil Francis passed away at his home in California on August 6, 2020. Francis was born and raised in Townsend, Delaware and graduated from Smyrna High School in 1953. He attended Pennsylvania State University where he earned his Bachelor's degree, majoring in Geology. During his service years in the US Army, he was posted to the Cold Regions Research and Education Lab in Hanover, New Hampshire. This work took him to Greenland and Alaska, which would plant the seed for a lifelong love of the Arctic.
Francis went on to earn a Master's degree from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. These studies lead to an early career in academia, first as an associate professor at California State University at Northridge, then later as a faculty member of the University of Toronto in Canada, where he taught geography and natural resources.
In 1974 he moved his family to Alaska when he was hired as an environmental consultant for the then booming oil and gas industry. He would spend the next 20 years in Alaska, raising a family and working on a range of local and statewide issues. During this time he began working with Alaska's indigenous tribes, most specifically the Inuit people of Kaktovik. This work gave him much satisfaction and recognition, as he lobbied and helped draft national legislation on issues concerning native land rights. This passion continued throughout his career with roles in planning and development for The San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona and the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe in southeast Alaska.
At the end of his career, Francis retired to California to be closer to his two sons and their families. Here he enjoyed writing, reading, debate, politics, trips to neighboring Los Angeles for shows and dining, and riding his motorcycle through the mountains and valleys of the high desert.
Dr. Karl Francis is preceded in death by his parents, William J.C. and Pauline Gohl Francis. He was predeceased by his younger brother, William J.C. Francis, Jr. of Smyrna.
He is survived by his sons, Jens and Nick; grandsons, Julian and Severin in California; and several cousins, nieces and nephews in Delaware and other states.
Published in Delaware State News on Sep. 13, 2020.