Francis served for more than forty years with great professional commitment, integrity and success in his chosen career of real estate. In a highly competitive field he was widely respected by peers for his ethical and collaborative approach and leadership skills. Over many years he has been engaged and continues to do so with dedication and distinction in a number of voluntary roles, several of which are high profile activities closely associated with the Church and that underpin its good name.
After a brief period in the rural sector Francis joined the family real estate firm in 1969 and obtained all necessary professional qualifications. When J.Fanning and Co Ltd. was taken over by J.H.Bethune & Co Ltd.in 1974 he began his long association with that firm, the oldest established real estate agency in Wellington. Since 2007 when the Bethune office was closed Francis has continued to work full-time in the area of residential real estate.
There was no doubt from an early stage of the high regard in which Francis has been held by colleagues in the real estate industry. He was elected to the Wellington District Executive of REINZ in 1976 and continued his involvement at District level until 1990.In that time serving, including as chair, on the sub-committees that were responsible for disciplinary matters and for judicial investigation and licensing. In 1983 he was appointed a Fellow of REINZ. He filled the senior position of District President in 1984 and 1985.
Francis’ contribution to real estate governance in New Zealand was not confined to district level. He held an elected position on the National Council of REINZ from 1986 until 1990, and in the latter year was appointed to the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board ( REALB), a position he held until 1996.Between 1996 and 2005 he was a deputy member of the Licensing Board. A feature of his time on the REALB, reflecting his deeply held concern for the community good, was his strong advocacy of the ‘public interest ’not solely the interests of the real estate sector.
Francis has had long ties with the Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre Ltd., the charitable company which runs the Wellington soup kitchen. He has been a director of the company since it was established in 1996 and was its chair for six years; he continues as a weekly volunteer in the kitchen. He is also a director of Compassion Housing Ltd., a charitable company which is a subsidiary of Sisters of Compassion, and which owns and operates 90 residential pensioner units in Upper Hutt City. Francis is involved with the Catholic Foundation of which he is a board member, and convenor of its Scholarship Committee.
The Rotary International motto of ‘service above self’ is one to which Francis is staunchly attached. A long-serving member of the Wellington South Rotary Club, he is in 2015-2016 once more the President and represents the Club’s interests at District level.
In his professional career and across the range of community good fields in which he is so actively involved, Francis has been a classic example of the ‘quiet achiever’. He has never sought public acclaim but over many years earned and retained enormous respect for the quiet and courteous, without fuss approach he has always applied to his endeavours. He is a great credit to the two Catholic colleges he attended. Francis is a most worthy recipient of the Old Boy of the Year 2015.