In Memory of




Obituary for John Francis Jr.

John Randolph Francis, Jr. 70, of Roanoke, suddenly and tragically departed this life at his home on Saturday, February 3, 2024. John was born in Roanoke, Virginia on July 4, 1953 to John Randolph Francis and Carolyn Draper Francis, who predeceased him. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife Rosemary, son Neil (Lauren) and the apple of his eye, grandson Joseph Beckett. He is also survived by his sister Carolyn “Candy” Francis Lucas and nephew Jake (Tonia). 

John was a 1971 graduate of Patrick Henry High School where he was fondly known as “Randy” by so many life-long friends, who, even in later life, insisted on calling him Randy. John was justifiably proud of the fact that he worked his way through Radford University where he graduated in 1976 with a B.S. degree in Business / Economics. It was while working during his college student days that John met a beautiful and spunky coworker from New York, Rosemary, who could more than hold her own in any give and take with John. They quickly became soulmates. Following graduation from Radford, John and Rosemary wed and began their 47 year journey together.

John was a natural banker from the beginning, who, through his young working days, learned valuable lessons in frugality, fiscal responsibility and proper economic planning. These principles guided John throughout his life and became concepts that he eagerly shared with others to help them along their way.

John began his long and distinguished career in commercial banking with Bank of Virginia in Roanoke on the corner of First Street and Church Avenue. John later joined First National Exchange Bank, which later became First Union Bank serving as President, Western Virginia Region for First Union/Dominion Bank.   

In 1993, John seized an opportunity to join North Carolina based First Citizens Bank and left the familiar environs of his beloved hometown of Roanoke with Rosemary and infant Neil in tow and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. John’s knowledge, skills and natural leadership qualities were quickly recognized and by 1995, just 18 months after moving, John and family returned to Roanoke as First Citizens Bank’s Executive Vice President. 

John’s responsibilities with First Citizens continued to expand as he was named Regional Executive Vice President for the Mid-Atlantic Region responsible for all banking activities in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He remained with First Citizens until his retirement from banking in 2017, in the Virginia headquarters of First Citizens Bank, ironically on the corner of First Street and Church Avenue where his banking career began 41 years earlier.

John was a passionate believer in the premise that with professional success came the responsibility to give back in equal measure to the community that fueled that success. John relished in and embraced the many volunteer opportunities to support the cultural, economic and civic activities of the Valley.

His ability to lead and inspire was a natural and logical fit for service and leadership of many boards critical to the Valley’s educational, cultural and economic growth. He served as a Board member of The Virginia Bankers Association, the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission, the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce serving as Chair in 2012, the Greater Roanoke Development Foundation, The Good Samaritan Hospice, and the Shenandoah Club.  

A voracious reader and supporter of literacy and education, John was particularly passionate about his service on the Board of the Roanoke Public Library Foundation and its mission of expanding literacy and access to previously underserved areas.

Another of John’s most treasured involvements was as a longstanding and dedicated member and current Chairman of the Local Advisory Board of Virginia Western Community College. John was so very proud of the important work being done at the College to educate and equip the next generation’s workforce. Believing education and literacy to be indispensable ingredients of a fulfilling and successful life, nothing made John happier than standing on the dais and watching proudly as students, often the first in their family, received their diplomas evidencing their commitment to hard work, perseverance, and desire to lift themselves up. 

While John’s professional and volunteer activities consumed most of his waking hours, he always made time for his beloved Hokies. An avid fan and many year season ticket holder to Tech football and basketball games, John, alongside his dedicated tailgate crew, supported his Hokies win or lose. John also had a love for the arts and opera making annual trips to New York to experience the very best in cultural offerings.

John, ever the quick wit, was indeed the life of any gathering, never met a stranger and touched the lives of so many cultivating, nurturing and cherishing lifetime relationships. John would, on occasion with a smile and hearty laugh, self-deprecatingly re-introduce himself to longtime friends as John Francis, “titan of industry and business.” To those who knew and loved John, the joke was not far from the truth.  

The family will receive friends and family on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at Oakey’s Funeral Service Downtown Chapel from 4:30 – 7:30 PM. Following a private internment, there will be a celebration of life at Second Presbyterian Church on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 2:00 PM with Dr. George Anderson officiating. 

The family would like to thank the members of the Roanoke City Police and Fire- EMS Departments who so professionally and respectfully assisted the family earlier this week. In remembrance of John’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation or the charity of your choice.

For those unable to attend, the family invites you to tune into the service from Second Presbyterian Church by following this link:

To view the Tribute/Photo video, click on the link below.