About Jon Francis
A Remarkable Young Man
“It’s not what we gather, but what we scatter that defines our life.” Jon Francis
In the early morning of March 5, 1982, Jon Francis was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Jon grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota and graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2005 with a B.A. in Religion. At the time of his disappearance, Jon was serving as Director of Youth Ministry at Ascension Lutheran Church in Ogden, Utah.
A Gifted Runner
Jon was a gifted runner. In high school, he was a 3 sport athlete, a 5 time Minnesota State Champion and voted National High School Champion runner. Jon was elected captain of his high school and college track and cross country teams.
A Brief Life of Faith and Service
Jon was director of youth ministry at in Ogden, Utah and a counselor for several years at (LHBC) near Ketchum, Idaho. From a young age, Jon lived his faith and ministry. Jon and his church youth group worked at a homeless shelter for children in Minneapolis. Many of the children were abandoned and abused. At the end of the service week our priest came to us and said; “Jon has a real gift for ministry to children.”
At Augustana College in Sioux Falls he led a bible study class, volunteered to work with Hispanic and latch key children and Habitat for Humanity. He was a leader at Teens Encounter Christ, a Peer Counselor at Stillwater High School and a Sunday School Teacher.
At Ascension Lutheran, Jon worked as a volunteer at their preschool. He loved children and they loved him. Jon lived his faith in word and in action. In 2006, he was seeking ordination.
Jon left many footprints
Jon’s pastor and mentor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Ogden, Utah, said that Jon had a down to earth, genuine ministry. He met the kids where they were and brought fun and joy to his ministry. He attracted others by living an authentic, faith-filled life.
Jon ran long distances and climbed mountains to challenge himself, but more importantly he did those things to glorify God. Climbing mountains was a spiritual experience for him. We know Jon felt close to God at the summit. That is how Jon lived his life.
On Saturday morning, July 15, 2006, 24-year old Jon Francis, of Stillwater, Minnesota, climbed The Grand Mogul in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. He reached the summit but did not return. The official search, led by local law enforcement authorities, lasted for only 2 days and was unsuccessful in finding him.
One of the searchers brought down a note that Jon had left in the summit registry. It read:
On July 18, 2006, the Deputy Sheriff came to us and said;”It’s time to give your son up to the mountain.” The sheriff and searchers then packed up and rode out of town.
We were left feeling helpless and hopeless, but committed ourselves to continue the search for our son. Our 12 month, family-funded search, employing hundreds of volunteers and professional search and rescue resources achieved the recovery of Jon’s remains on July 24, 2007. Jon was laid to rest at home in Minnesota, on October 9, 2007.
Jon touched us. He was a man of strong character, deep faith, humility, patience, fun, adventure, competition and unconditional love for others. Jon loved boldly and lived joyfully.
David and Linda Francis