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Colandus Francis, Sr

Obituary of Colandus Francis, Sr

Obituary Colandus “Kelly” Francis was a fierce activist with a relentless devotion to the City of Camden and it’s residents. Born in Enfield, NJ to Copey Roy and Victoria Francis on August 12,1937, he was delivered by his Grandmother, Queen Victoria Simmons, who was a local midwife. The second of four children, he spent his early years in Newport News, VA. In 1949, the family moved from Virginia to Philadelphia. He spent two years in Philadelphia schools and later moved to Camden, NJ. He graduated from Camden High School with honors in 1952. After graduation he attended Penn State for one year. He continued his education at Rutgers University (Camden) and Salem Community College where he earned certifications in Programing, Digital Electronics and Electronics Technology. On June 21, 1956, he married Alice L. Brown and from this union were born three children; Robyn (Coraopolis, PA), Colandus Jr. (Pennsauken, NJ) and Kevin (Yorktown, VA). Colandus’ postal career began on July 2, 1956 when his was hired as a temporary worker. He eventually was hired fulltime as a letter carrier on January 12, 1957 earning $1.82 per hour. With his electronic training, he requested to have his name placed on a register for a position in the Maintenance Department. In 1969, He began work at the South Jersey Main Sorting Center as a technician where he assumed full responsibility for the implementation of Digital Operations, staffing, scheduling and maintaining 12 position letter sorting machines. During his 34 year career at the Postal Service, Colandus served as an officer in the Postal Workers Union. This role was also a launching pad for his interest in workers rights and labor law. He took it upon himself to represent employees who suffered acts of discrimination, spending hours of his personal time on their cases. Colandus holds a lifetime membership with the NAACP. Upon his retirement from the Postal Service in 1989, He served as President of the Camden County Branch of the NAACP and actively became involved in the launching of the Branch’s AST-SO program. He was a volunteer and board member of numerous community based agencies and councils which included Camden City Taxpayers’ Association, Parkside Business and Community Partnership, Fair Share Housing Center, the NJ Work Enviroment Council, the Superior Court Sensitivity and Cultural Awareness Committee and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He was enlisted often by Rutgers Law School to teach special seminars on discrimination issue and environmental justice. He also thoroughly enjoyed being a “thorn in the side” of many government officials who did not always have the best interest of Camden or it’s citizens in mind. One of his proudest moments during his service in the NAACP, in partnership with the Burlington County branch, was the successful conclusion of a 30 year battle for affordable housing surburban South Jersey. This culminated with the completion of the Ethel R. Lawrence Homes in Mt. Laurel in 2002. Most recently his continued advocacy for affordable housing resulted in the completion of the Evans-Francis Estates in Cherry Hill. In addition to his social justice activities, he was a Jazz enthusiast, enjoyed traveling to family reunions, spending time with his grand and great grandchildren, watching CNN, tinkering with electronics and making his daily newspaper run. He found great joy in supporting and mentoring ACT-SO students, attending most of their local and national competitions and bragging about all the medals the Camden County students have won over the years. Colandus is survived by his children Robyn, Colandus Jr.(Sharon) and Kevin(Kimberly), grandchildren Colandus III(Shanae), Christopher(Kyra) and Joseph(Jennifer), his great-grandchildren, London, Jamison, Aurora, Colandus IV, Oliver and Olivia and stepgrandaughter Elizabeth Houston. He is also survived by his sister Marlene Francis, his brother Copey Jr and a host of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Copey Roy Francis, mother Victoria Simmons Francis and sister Yvonne Francis Samuels. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to: NAACP New Jersey State Conference 4326 Harbour Beach Blvd. #775 Brigantine, NJ 08203 ATTN: Vivan Darks In memo: In Memory of Colandus "Kelly" Francis NJ State Conference ACTSO Program
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