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Sunday, April 30, 2023
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Dr. Gene Louis France, 72, died at home surrounded by his loving family on Thursday, April 27th, 2023. Gene was born on October 11, 1950, the fourth of five sons of Reno and Bea France. He and his brothers were raised on their family farm in Heth, Arkansas, to become gentlemen, loyal friends, devoted family men, and servants of Christ in the Catholic Church. Gene met his future wife, Margie, when they were twelve years old. Their love and mutual respect have stood the test of time; they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last June. Gene and Margie were honored and proud to raise seven children in Little Rock. Like most Italian family homes, the France home was full of lots of noise, people, and spaghetti. They have always been boisterous, respectful, and passionately devoted to one another.
Church life was always important to Gene. He was a faithful member of Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church, where he and Margie made and maintained so many of their lifelong closest friendships. Not only did Gene benefit from a life in church community, he always found ways to contribute to the parishioners, seminarians, priests, and ministries of the churches he loved. He was a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, a member of the Serra Club, and a certified Spiritual Director. He and Margie enjoyed their travels in Italy and the Holy Land over the years. Gene graduated from Forrest City High School and with Honors from Christian Brothers University in Memphis. He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After a residency in Pediatrics at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, he completed training as an Allergist and Immunologist. Along with his partner, Dr. Kelsey Caplinger, Dr. France founded the Little Rock Allergy and Asthma Clinic in 1981. He was always passionate about taking excellent care of his patients and exuded gentleness and genuine concern in all his interactions with them.
Dr. France first volunteered at Camp Aldersgate in 1977, sparking a love for the mission of MedCamps of Arkansas that persisted until his death. For over 20 years, he served as the Medical Director and Board Chair of MedCamps, and was honored as an Emeritus Board Member in 2022. Camp staff and campers remember his fierce dedication to the principle that “We must always put the children first and not ourselves.” Gene will be fondly remembered by many loving friends and family and all who knew him. He was proud of his Italian heritage. He loved the St. Louis Cardinals. He adored babies and children. His crooked smile helped us see the good in a tough situation, and he could be stern when needed. During his illness at the end of his life, Gene focused on time with the people he loved and with God. He taught us to face challenges with eyes forward. He was preceded in death by his parents, Reno and Bea France, his brother Ed France, and grandson Harrison Wood. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Margie France, seven children: Louis France (Jennifer Reece), Gina Wood, Dr. Erica France Braswell (Dr. Leah), Brooke Edwards (Evan Lewis), Meg France, Paul Stapleton (Melanie), and Vincent France (Deborah Rice), along with 15 grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers John France (Betty), Jerry France, and Jim France (Kelly), and many nieces and nephews.
There will be a Rosary on Sunday at 1 PM at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church, followed immediately by family visitation in the Parish Hall. Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday at 10 AM at Holy Souls. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to MedCamps of Arkansas, Inc. P.O. Box 55592, Little Rock, AR, 72215.