Betty Clark Francis

Teacher and Musician

My Sentimental Journey

Betty Clark Francis, BYH Class of 1955
Betty Clark Francis '55

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1955

Editor's note: The following was written in 2005 -- anticipating the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1955. 2020 now marks the 65th Anniversary since the Class of 1955 walked the grounds and halls of Brigham Young High School.
For at least 18 of our classmates, including me, our association with this school began not as High School students, but much earlier as children in the BYU Elementary Training School. This school was located on the northeast corner of what is now known as Academy Square, in a building that now exists only in our memories. I hope you can appreciate the added feelings that we brought with us to BY High.
BYU Training School, Lower Campus
Upon hearing of the impending demise of our beloved BY High School campus, I asked my son, Gary, to bring his camera, and we took a walk around the grounds together. I remembered many fun things from that early part of my life, and I'd like to share a little of it with you.

Our Training School days began when we met our Principal, Miss Hermese Peterson. Our Principal introduced us to our Kindergarten teacher, Miss Lorna Call. We had lots of fun playing in her cute room. We had stories, toys, naptime, and we all wore an old shirt backwards while we painted on the easel or did finger paintings. Singing time was particularly fun -- for example, on cue in October we all walked around with arched backs, and when she clapped her hands and said, "Scat -- Halloween Cat!" we all ran like mad!

Then we went to First Grade, and Miss ____ Strong became our teacher. This was where we became best friends with "Dick and Jane" and "Spot" -- Run, Spot, run! Run, run, run! Look Dick, see Spot run!

In the Second Grade our teacher was Mrs. Elda Jackson. Arithmetic, writing and reading became much more serious! But we also played jacks, marbles, hopscotch, jump-rope and tag.

Third Grade was fun with Mrs. Flora Fisher as our teacher. She was a wonderful artist and tried her best to make "Rembrandts" out of all of us. I remember a field trip to see the tulips blooming at Dick Dixon's house. We also loved playing on the "bumps" -- roller skating and riding our bikes.

When we moved up to Fourth Grade we literally moved upstairs. Mrs. Vera Woodland was our teacher. It was fun and serious when we each brought items to fill Red Cross boxes to be sent overseas to children in war zones. We brought chalk, pencils, crayons, small scissors, notebooks, soap, toothpaste, brushes, combs and a few small toys, carefully and lovingly packed ready to mail. And we remember the Indian costumes -- we created designs with crayons, then ironed the designs into the fabric.

Miss Georgia Maeser was our Fifth Grade teacher. We learned about the planets. This year for the Jamboree the girls were Chinese dancers and the boys were Russians. We had a Persian prince -- Ardy -- in our class who wore a jewel in his forehead.

Because we were a Training School for BYU, we frequently had "student teachers" who trained under our teachers. One of them was a handsome fellow -- Max Berryessa -- who sent all of the girls into a flutter! We went on a field trip to the airport and rode in an airplane. Kent Christopherson was in our class, and his father managed the airport. We also took turns passing around those nasty iron or iodized pills that we had had to chew -- ugh!

When we became Sixth Graders, at last we were the "big wheels" of the elementary school. We had a man teacher -- Mr. Tom Larson from Lehi. Again, we girls were all in a flutter over him. It was rumored that one evening certain girls left a message on the blackboard declaring true feelings of their hearts, for him to discover the next day! One day Sharlene was accidentally hit on the head by a bat -- Mr. Larson carried her into the office, and she loved it! We also had school lunch, and a Halloween party, complete with a spook alley that topped all of our other parties. Our teachers taught us how to dance -- the boys were to ask the girls, and the girls were to graciously accept. For the Jamboree we dyed and dried feathers with a vacuum in reverse, then dressed as Hawaiians, using the feathers for shakers. Mr. MacAllister taught us how to play Flute-O-Phones.

We also became aware of the BYU basketball team because they practiced in the men's gym upstairs. We got to know Bob Craig, Mel Hutchings, Roland Minson, and others.

After Sixth Grade, we went to Brigham Young Junior High School. We were really part of the High School now, and we even had access to University activities. We attended concerts, devotionals, snow-sculpture contests, and all sorts of athletic events. We even attended the dedication of the new Science Building, and some of us had the privilege of shaking hands with President George Albert Smith.

We began to feel enriched in the spiritual side of our lives, realizing that the Prophet and other general authorities were directing our activities and our Seminary classes.
Brigham Young High School Arts Building
Most of our classes were held in the Arts Building. Dear old 250A, which for six years, or at least three years for most of us, our lives were molded, enriched, formed, and we were educated in so many ways.

We had pep rallies, meetings, practices, played tricks on teachers, listened to the "Bottle Band", and had many dances -- some even held at noon. We were gradually meshed into the High School.
All of these experiences brought us to our graduation day, and from there to where we are today. Our beloved old Education Building is now part of the new Provo City Library at Academy Square. Just being able to walk through this wonderful building brings back a zillion memories!
Provo City Library at Academy Square, 2000
I remember George Lewis and our Speech classes; Richard Gunn who taught both Art and Religion classes; Howard Barron and Verl Allman, who taught Science classes, and showed us all of the pickled specimens; Miss June Berry and the Library; Fred Webb and many Chorus classes; Farrell Madsen and the Band; various clubs, sports events, and student government activities. The memories come back in a rush -- the "Ramp" with Brent Brockbank in a coffin at one end for our Halloween party -- moving to College Hall where we had so many plays, assemblies, where Mr. Gunn played Debussy's Clair de Lune -- and on and on.
Academy Square, Provo, Utah, restored 2001
I am so happy to see that our grand old Beehive "Fountain" is still keeping watch over Academy Square along with a new statue of Brigham Young. I have so many memories of each of my classmates and teachers. A special thanks to each one of you for making these memories so wonderful! They may fade, but they will also be restored, and they will live in our hearts forever.

Much love,


Betty Clark, Queen in 1955
Betty Clark, 1955
Betty Clark Francis, Springville, Utah, 2005
Betty Clark Francis, 2005

In Memoriam

Betty Clark Francis, October 12, 1937 ~ December 24, 2020

Betty Clark Francis was born October 12, 1937, in American Fork, Utah, to James Sylvester and Vera B. Clark. Her arrival came one day following her beloved mother's birthday.

Betty grew up in north Provo on family land settled by grandparents of the Walton/Brereton lineage. Her father, Sylvester, and grandfather, Earl Clark, built their home, which became a haven that she loved.

Betty inherited her rich musical talent from both parents. At the age of three, she began piano lessons, and from that moment on, her hands became one with the piano keys. Evidence of her prodigy was immediate, and getting her to quit practicing long enough to eat was a challenge. School choirs were blessed by her piano and organ accompaniments, and Betty used her extraordinary talent to bless the lives of countless recipients throughout her life until diabetes later struck and claimed the use of her left arm.

Throughout her life, her perfect pitch became both a blessing and a frustration. She would identify the chords and chromatics of each sound-explaining if they were too sharp or too flat to be honed for comfortable listening. If they were imperfect, she would grind her teeth and cringe until the noise subsided.

Betty was educated at BY Elementary, BY Junior High, and BY High School-maintaining a perfect 4.0 all the way through her graduation in the Class of 1955 with high honors. Betty also attended Brigham Young University and graduated with honors in music theory and elementary education. For many years she would share her love of learning with her countless little people, all of whom she adored in the kindergarten classroom of Sage Creek Elementary School in Springville.

In 1959, Betty was in the Miss Liberty Bell royalty and was asked to perform at the Fourth of July Panorama Stadium Show. During the finale number, she accidentally met Sam Francis, a gifted entertainer, and impressionist, while they were both on stage and Betty's shoe got caught in the wooden bleacher. She literally fell into Sam's arms. They began their courtship and were later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, June 15, 1962. Even after their marriage, the microphone and piano keys were not far from their reach. They continued traveling and entertaining wherever there was an opportunity. Sam and Betty built a lovely home in Springville in which they raised their two sons, Mike and Gary. Later, they moved to the original family homestead near LaVell Edward's Stadium, where she spent the final 14 years of her life.

Betty served faithfully in her church and civic duties. She was a remarkable cook and prepared countless meals for family and friends-especially throughout the Holiday Season- her favorite time of year. How fitting it is that she passed on the eve before the celebrated birth of the One she now faces. Her gift to us this year is her final testimony of Him and His teachings of the family-its importance and its eternal and forgiving nature.

Betty is survived by her husband Samuel E. Francis, Provo; sons Michael E. (Fay) Francis, American Fork; Gary R. Francis, Provo; two brothers: Robert E. (LuWana) Clark, Orem; and Ronald J. (Kathleen) Clark, Orem; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces. Betty's passage is preceded by her parents; grandparents: Elmo and Aurora Brereton and Earl and Anne Clark; and a large ancestry of which she studied and cradled in her heart-all of whom now hold her in their arms.

After many attempts knocking at her door, death did so once again during the early hours of Christmas Eve, and Betty finally answered.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at the Berg Drawing Room Chapel, 185 East Center Street, Provo, Utah. Close friends to Betty and family members are invited to a viewing from 9:30-10:30 a.m. prior to services. Because there are capacity restrictions placed on us during the COVID virus, Betty's services will be recorded and available for all to view on the mortuary website following her burial in the Provo City Cemetery. Facemasks are required and appreciated. Condolences may also be expressed at Source.

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