John E. & Hazel W. Francis
Hazel Francis believes in giving back to her community, so it was only natural for her to give $7 million worth of land to Silver Cross Hospital and Medical Centers.
In 1997, Francis gave nearly 300 acres of prime New Lenox land to Silver Cross, with no restrictions or requests. And, several years ago, she donated the property that houses the Silver Cross Medical Center in New Lenox.
In recognition of her generous gifts, Silver Cross dedicated the John E. and Hazel W. Francis Pavilion-which is the primary inpatient building located on Maple Road, May 18, 1998.
"I wanted to do it now, so I would be able to do it myself,” Hazel Francis says. As the youngest of six daughters, she says she learned the value of compromise, humility and compassion. “It was instilled in me way back that you have to give and take.”
Francis has lived a full and unique life. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1927 with a degree in art and design. But her father became ill and died, so she returned to her family home in Collinsville, Illinois, to run the family coal mine.
"It was the family business,” she says. “Someone had to do it. Just like the farmer's son who becomes a farmer.”
While still a student, she met John Francis and a long distance romance began-commuting between New Lenox and Collinsville. After the couple married and Hazel moved to New Lenox, she began her life of caring and her affiliation with her community.
Hazel Francis was the neighborhood chairperson for the Girl Scouts in New Lenox, Manhattan, Frankfort and Homer Townships. She served as a volunteer at Hines Veterans Hospital for many years, and with her late husband, she served on many committees of the United Methodist Church. She has also served on the Sanservis Guild of the Sunny Hill TB Sanitarium, the Easter Seal Foundation and many other community organizations.
But her association with Silver Cross has always been special. She has been a volunteer at the hospital for 47 years, ever since she came to the area as a bride.
"John and I always believed in the importance of supporting our community,” Hazel says. “Silver Cross is exemplary for the services it provides, and we wanted to support the hospital's opportunity to continue its excellent health care services for our area.”
Former Silver Cross Chairman of the Board of Trustees Rabbi Morris Hershman said, “We at Silver Cross are humbled and deeply grateful to Mrs. Francis for her magnanimous and princely gifts.”
John Francis waited more than 20 years to marry his only love, and she says he told her to take care of herself first. She says they often talked about giving something to Silver Cross. “I think I have done the wishes of both of us,” Hazel said. “I've kept enough to buy myself a new dress if I need one."