Exmouth builder Francis was ‘someone you could trust’

Francis Williams.

Francis Williams. - Credit: Archant

An Exmouth grandfather, who died last month, has been remembered as a quality house builder, a top class sailor and ‘a very popular man’.

Francis Williams.

Francis Williams. - Credit: Archant

Francis Williams, who was 74, ran Francis Williams Ltd, following on from his grandfather, also Francis, and father, Howard.

Across the generations, they built more than 1,000 houses between them, with a reputation for working to a high standard.

Francis’s wife Jane said: “They were very highly regarded as a good quality local builder. You still see that estate agents will advertise Francis Williams homes.

“People would come up to him in the town and say how much they enjoyed living in his houses.”

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Away from work, Francis achieved notable success in sailing, with highlights from a long competitive career, including winning the Merlin Rocket national championships in 1971, and finishing as runner-up in the Tornado class in qualification for Great Britain’s Olympic team for the 1976 games.

He was a former commodore and long-time trustee at Exe Sailing Club, where he also built the current clubhouse as part of his day job.

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As well as sailing, Francis also enjoyed other sports, including tennis, squash and, later golf, joining East Devon Golf Club.

He was also a member of Exmouth and District Rotary Club for 35 years, and collected thousands of unwanted spectacles over the years from Exmouth opticians to send to a charity in Africa.

In family life, he married Karen in 1970, and they had four children – Aran, Mark, Ian and Sian.

Karen died in 2011, and Francis subsequently met Jane, who he married earlier this year.

Describing Francis, Jane said: “He was a very likeable man and a very popular man.

“What has come across in the hundreds of letters and cards we have had is people thought he was charming and fun, he was honourable, and he was someone you could trust.”

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