Francis Gordon Laws
January 19, 1946 – May 25, 2012
This eulogy was given by Francis Laws’s sister Shirley Trent at his funeral. Thanks to Mary Jane Vuyk for transcribing it and making it available to everyone.
Francis Laws was born to Parley and Mariam Laws and joined a big sister, Shirley and a big brother Jamie at home. He was born in what we called the “Old Shaggy House” in Blanding, San Juan on 19 Jan 1946. Dr. Bayles delivered him
Francis grew up tagging Jamie around and doing everthing he did. We lived in Blanding for awhile and then we moved to Alkali and our Dad dry farmed for several years until I (Shirley) was old enough to go to school. Then we moved back to Blanding and bought a piece of land and moved an old sheep herder’s shack onto it and lived in two rooms until they started adding on to it.
Francis loved to ride a horse and he and Jamie and their friends used to go out riding all day with a sack lunch and a water bag. Francis was thrown from his horse on one trip and Jamie and whoever was with them put a splint on it (they learned how in Boy Scouts) with their belts and some sticks and brought him to town and Mom took him to the doctor. The doctor told her that the boys had done a good job of putting the splint on it.
We spent a lot of time at the ranch and Francis and Jamie picked up rocks and sticks while Shirley drove the pickup. I received an e-mail from one of the many friends that Francis had and he remembered raising doggie labs with Jamie and how much fun they had doing It. Jamie even remembered the names of the lambs they had. They would get them from Alma Redd.
The boys spent quite a bit of time in Montezuma Creek with Grandpa and Grandma Black and they had an old car they fixed up and hot-rodded around down there. They had fun at everything they did.
Francis went to grammar school at Blanding Elementary and he graduated from San Juan High School. He worked until he was old enough to be drafted into the service of our country and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was always proud to be a veteran. He met and brought his wife, Eleanor and her two children, Mark and Dana into our lives, and they had three more sons together, Brandon, Eric and Reese.
Francis and Eleanor lived in Blanding for a few years and he worked driving trucks for Junior Cosby and Sierra Tree Farms hauling logs off the Elk Ridge and LaSal mountains. Sometimes he would haul for Lester Crain, hauling ore from Fry Canyon to the Moab mill through Hanksville. He was paid $30.00 a load and it took all day to make a trip. Highway 95 was not paved at that time.
When the veterans’ preference law went into effect in order to hire more Vietnam veterans in the country, Francis applied and was hired by the San Juan County Sheriff’s office as a deputy. He moved his family to Bluff and then when John Dufer retired he was required to move to White Mesa. After a year he was replaced by a tribal police and he moved his family back to Blanding. Soon after he was approached by Junior Hoggard to drive his water truck to his drilling rigs on Deer Flats and Francis quit the county.
He drilled two water wells in town. One was for Eleanor and one was for his mother. He liked his job, but was often required to be away from home for ten days at a time.
Francis loved to hunt deer and often took his wife and sons out to Alkali and Bulldog to hunt. They had to gut and skin their own deer and clean their own fish. He taught them all he had be taught.
His hobby was to find old vehicles and rebuild the engines, especially jeeps. His friends soon bought jeeps for themselves and they would go with Francis and their young families on the mountain and Bluff on dirt roads. The challenge was to get there and back without driving on any paved roads.
All the kids learned a new game of tag while riding. They would stop and gather pinecones to throw at each other. Francis would drive very fast and park behind big bushes and as the other jeeps passed by his kids would bombard the other jeeps with pinecones. It was fun until Mark fell out of the jeep and Eleanor said “Enough!”
Other times, he would take them “sand duning”. After Mark bumped his head on the roll bar and broke the windshield with the unhurt part of his head, Eleanor pointed the way home.
In 1999 Francis bought his first truck and went into business for himself. He hauled locally and cross country. His love of trucks never waned. He bought seven during his business career.
Francis went to work for Clint Howell on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and promised him a year, but ended up staying eight years. He moved his family there for the last six months of the job.
He taught his sons to drive trucks, run heavy equipment and fix their own cars. He was often heard to say, that if he had all the tools his kids had lost, he could open his own tool store and retire a wealthy man.
In his later years, he and Eleanor would go in the truck and see the country, picking up loads to haul on the way. Most of the time they would run with Glade Young, his good friend. Francis remembered those as fun times.
He had friends everywhere he went, and reunited with them at truck stops, exchanging news about other jobs and friends. He said the largest city he had ever seen was Toronto, Canada, and when he went to Southeast Asia, he had gone so far east, that he met himself on the way. He and Eleanor would discuss where they might go on vacation and he would say, “No, I’ve already been there.”
He finally got tired of long hauling and went to work for S & S hauling asphalt for Staker Parsons. At last he found something he could enjoy and make money at it. Above all he could stay put for the summer and retire for the winter. His mother for winter driving was “If I might have to chain up---I won’t go.” He purchased a camper and lived at the job all over the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. After he was diagnosed with cancer in August 2011, Francis underwent treatment and had to stay home to mend, but was so sad that he couldn’t go drive. One day Glade, Curtis Perkins and Scott Marion picked him up and took him to breakfast. “Just like old times,” he said. His day was not complete until he received a call from one or all of these close friends.
He worked with or for some good men; Junior Cosby, George Petty, Curtis Palmer, Junior Hoggard, Clint Howell, Reed Hurst and many others. They brought jobs and revenue to our county and were willing to teach the young men to work various trades.
Francis loved his children and grandchildren with all of his heart and called then on the phone frequently when he was on the road. He called his wife and told her goodnight and “I love you” every night when he parked the truck for the night.
His last words were, “I’m going home.”