By Erich Wagner (Courtesy photo)
Alexandria native Francis Fannon III, who was a long-time member of many local organizations, died last week at the age of 82.
Fannon was born in Alexandria and attended St. Mary’s grade school in Old Town. He attended St. John’s College High School in D.C. before going to the University of Virginia, where he played college football before graduating and returning the Alexandria in 1957.
The grandson of former vice mayor Thomas J. Fannon, spent most of his career working in the life insurance industry, eventually founding his own insurance and financial planning firm in 1980.
Fannon’s son, former City Councilor Frank Fannon, said Fannon was always very proud of his city, community, family and friends.
“He was born on Duke Street in the Old Alexandria Hospital, and when he passed away last week, he passed away on Duke Street at Sun- rise nursing home,” he said. “He was just a very happy and a very positive guy. Everybody that he encountered noticed that he had a smile on his face, and he was always just very thankful for everything that he had and never worried about what he didn’t have.”
Fannon remembered his father as a very loving man, who cherished his relationship with Frank and his brother Ryan.
“He was just a very giving person,” he said. “One of the things my brother and I respected most was the time he gave us growing up. We went on so many trips, and he said later that some of the best times of his life was just doing stuff with his two sons as we were coming up.”
Fannon remembered one trip in particular: a 40-day road trip across the country.
“It was just after my dad retired, I was between jobs and my brother had just graduated college — the timing was basically perfect — so we got in a 1979 Cadillac and went 40 days to Iowa and Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and then Texas and Arkansas and eventually back through Virginia,” he said. “What struck me was he was always so proud and would walk into any diner in any town and say, ‘You all look like a fine bunch of Americans. I’m from Alexandria, Va., George Washington’s home town.’
“[He] once said later in life that his proudest moment was being able to be Ryan and my father, and that meant so much to us.”
Fannon was an longtime member of a number of local groups, from the Alexandria Kiwanis Club and the Old Dominion Boat Club to the Alexandria Sportsman’s Club and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a group for residents of Irish heritage to celebrate their ancestry.
Fannon is survived by his wife Kathy Fannon, his sons Frank and Ryan Fannon, and grandchildren Ryan Jr., Maggie, Grace and T. Jackson. The family will receive friends October 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home, located at 1500 W. Braddock Road. A funeral mass will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 310 S. Royal St.