Rhonda Lane on February 14th, 2010


Associated Press video obit for Dick Francis

Perhaps you’ve heard, perhaps you haven’t, but honored and beloved jockey-turned-author Dick Francis passed away at the age of 89.

The London Telegraph’s website has a thorough obituary on Francis. Sarah Weinman, mystery author and crime fiction commentator, has posted a list of blogs referencing Francis’s passing.

Sarah’s post amounts to a virtual wake (Be sure to click on the on the link to Janet Rudolph’s blog for a charming story about her meeting with Francis.)

For more obits and tributes, see below.

And the homepage on the Dick Francis website has this tribute.

Twitter

People have shared their memories of Dick Francis on Twitter, the micro-blogging service. Several Twitterers have wondered what they will “buy Dad for Christmas” without new Dick Francis novels. (Guys, you’re covered for this year.)

Hallie Ephron, known as @BibsDevotional on Twitter posted a quote from Francis’s work:

“The mingled smells of hot horse and cold river mist filled my nostrils.” He will be missed.

Another Twitterer @WriteRCastle, intended as the Twitter account for the TV show character, mystery author Rick Castle from the ABC-TV series Castle:

I will be spending a day at the races tomorrow in honor of the great Dick Francis. May he rest in peace.

Hoisting a pint in Francis’s honor would probably be appropriate, too, Rick.

Memorial Services

After a family service, Francis was buried by his beloved wife Mary in the Caymans. A larger service reportedly will be held in Britian. Here are some accounts of the farewells:

My own comments

Although Francis’s books carried his name and racetrack cred, his mostly silent partner for decades had been his wife Mary, who’d conducted his research and is alleged to have written his books.

Like literary agent Janet Reid, I have a “so what?” attitude about the rumors concerning her involvement. I’ll even take it a step forward and state that the Francises were ahead of their time.

In modern commercial fiction parlance,  as a former jockey for the Queen Mother and almost winner of the prestigious Grand National steeplechase, Dick Francis had the best author platform imaginable. He had international name recognition as a sports celebrity. As a result, the Francis family built a brand that has delivered gritty thrillers set in the world of horse racing to more than 60 million readers for almost 50 years.

In recent years, after Mary’s passing, the elder Francis had joined forces with his youngest son Felix to write additional books. Their next book Crossfire is scheduled for release in late fall.

I have to admit that my sentimental favorite is Reflex (1980).  The book combined my long-time love of horse racing with my then-new love of photography.  When I picked up the US paperback edition, I had just purchased my first 35mm SLR, a Nikon FM, and had begun learning B&W darkroom work.

Thank you, Francis family, for enhancing such good memories with such a good book.

And to echo Hallie, he will be missed.

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