Francis L. Wickens, 95, of Denton died Friday night, April 19th, 2019, in the Central Montana Medical Center of natural causes. He was born November 4, 1923, on the family homestead south of Denton the son of Martin C. and Alice G. (Kilganon) Wickens. As a child, he rode a horse to the one room school house a mile down the road before enrolling in the Denton Public Schools from which he graduated in 1941. Thereafter, he attended college briefly before returning to central Montana to work with his father on the family homestead. World War II was raging at the time, and on April 30, 1945, he entered the United States Army, four months before the bombing of Japan. He was then deployed overseas to Japan where he completed his service before being honorably discharged on November 30, 1946. He then returned to central Montana where he began dating and then married Lois Bowen on July 3, 1948. Francis and Lois had three children, Carol, Keith and Kathleen and soon moved to the family farm in Denton, where Francis worked with his father. Sadly, Lois passed away in 1955 but Francis remained on the farm working and raising their three children. On February 2, 1959, he was united in marriage to Bernice Quick in Lewistown. Francis and Bernice had four children, Martin, Sean, Mary and Lear, whom they raised together with their older siblings on the family farm. However, on July 2, 1974, Bernice and Martin were killed in a tragic automobile accident after which Francis again remained on the farm raising his youngest children with much assistance from their older siblings. Then, on June 21, 1980, he was united in marriage to Norma (Sally) Todd whom he had known since childhood as she had grown up on a neighboring homestead south of Denton. Sally loved the farm life and the Denton community and the two spent many happy years together on the farm until Sally preceded him in death in 2012 after 32 years of marriage.
Francis was a man whose life was centered around, faith, family, and farming. A true son of pioneers, he was as strong and enduring as the central Montana homestead where he was born and spent his entire life, living out his days in a home built by his father. He took great pride in his Irish heritage which was evident in his bright red hair and the twinkle of his eyes. He enjoyed playing guitar and singing, which he continued to do well into his later years, and he loved to dance when the opportunity arose. He also had a passion for politics and finance with a decidedly conservative bent in both. But of all his interests, his greatest joy was his large and extended family in whom he took much pride. He lived each day with a sincere devotion to his faith which he shared with his children and grandchildren through his words and actions. Although he was able to travel in his later years, he preferred to be home on the farm where he felt that living in the shadow of three mountain ranges gave him great tranquility, especially when the weather allowed him to sit on the screen porch looking out at the mountains silhouetted beyond his fields. He always enjoyed an Irish blessing and so would enjoy one included here. Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.
He was a member of St. Anthony Catholic Church of Denton and, previously, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church of Stanford. He was also a longtime member of the Eagles Lodge of Lewistown and Post #62 American Legion of Denton.
He is survived by his children Keith (Judy) of Denton, MT, Sean of Auburn, WA, Lear of Clarkston, WA, Carol (Dann) Sims of Dutton, MT, Kathleen Wickens NoRunner of Missoula, MT, and Mary (Craig) Roloff of Bozeman, MT; step-son Dale (Rhonda) Shipp of Cody, WY, and step-daughters Norma (Harry) Haskell of Riverton, WY, Sue McDonnell of St. Marie’s, ID, and Julie Burton of Fort Collins, CO; 18 grandchildren, and 24 great grandchildren.
Funeral Mass for Francis L. Wickens will be Thursday, April 25th, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. in St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Lewistown with Committal to follow in Mount Calvary Cemetery. Vigil Services will be Wednesday, April 24th, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. in the Cloyd Chapel. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Friends are asked to make memorials to St. Anthony Catholic Church of Denton, Denton EMS or the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.