Mike Francis, 78

Dr. Mike Francis says he has “an amazing life and great friends.” Born in Tallahassee but raised in St. Pete with his four brothers, Mike enjoyed listening to music of all genres. His father introduced him to musical acts with his connections at the American Legion. Mike even met and played “Take Five” on the drums with the Dave Brubeck quartet!

Mike moved back to Tallahassee in 1971. He and his wife, Christine, met in Cocoa Beach when Mike was working for NASA. He studied math at Rollins College and got his doctorate at Nova University. He worked on the Apollo Program. His work and his service in the Air Force have allowed him to see the world, “sometimes twice,” he laughs.

Mike and Christine moved into his mom’s house on West College Avenue. “That house is still standing,” says Mike. It wasn’t long before they bought their own home 51 years ago. They raised their daughter, Lisa and their son, Mike, Jr. and were married for 38 years before Christine’s passing in early 2008.

Mike retired in 2003 and soon started his days at Whataburger at the same table each morning. He was soon dubbed the “Mayor of Whataburger” by the staff. Soon other retired friends including his brother, Charles, a retired judge, started joining him. Now they meet a few days at Whataburger and a few days at Chick-fil-A.

Mike has three grandchildren, Ashley, Hub, and Cullen. He and Christine enjoyed taking the kids to all 50 states on several family trips. And Mike shared his love of music and drumming skills with Hub who is a guitarist in a successful band based in Atlanta.

Mike is a lifelong philatelist and has been involved in the Tallahassee Stamp and Cover Club that hosts  monthly meetings and an annual show at the Tallahassee Senior Center. He was President of the club for 21 years. He’s also taught several digital photography classes at the Senior Center. His photographs taken above Mount Kilauea during an eruption several years ago made him a nice chunk of change.

These days Mike says he’s content with his peaceful life in Tallahassee. He has a sweetheart who he’s been with for six years. He takes care of his two formerly stray cats, Freddy and Basil. He enjoys sci-fi movies.

He does have one final place that he’d like to visit. In all his travels, he’s never been to Russia. “I’d like to take a North Sea cruise, disembark, and put one foot in Russia.”

Dr. Francis says that the secret to positive aging “is no secret. Reduce your stress, have lots of friends and see each other often, laugh – laughter is so good for you, and don’t smoke.” His doctor would concur!