BY CHRIS FAULKNOR, PUBLISHER
After 87 years of life, over two thirds of which spent as a priest serving in numerous places—including Boyne City and Boyne Falls, Rev. Francis C. Partridge died on Oct. 17.
While everyone’s memories will be a little different, the lessons recalled are very much the same, and often summed up with the phrase “Jesus, I trust in you,” which was used by Partridge during many of his sermons.
“I know that my life is so much richer with him having been a part of my journey,” said Boyne Valley Catholic Community Pastoral Administrator Patty Furtaw. “We have a great intercessor in heaven who will be helping us.”
Partridge was born on Jan. 10, 1930 in Charlevoix, attending school and graduating there.
Following high school, Partridge attended Aquinas College and the University of Michigan, attaining a degree in Library Science.
He then chose to pursue the call to the priesthood, attending the Catholic seminary in Kitchener, Ontario and continuing his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome and being ordained as a priest in 1960.
Throughout his 57 years as a priest, Partridge held a number of roles.
These included assignments as an Assistant in Muskegon and Grand Rapids, Associate Pastor and eventually Pastor, Superintendent of Schools in Cheboygan, and even Associate Superintendent of Christian Education for the Diocese of Gaylord.
Later in his pastoral life, Partridge served as Pastor in Lake Leelanau, Alpena, and eventually Boyne City and Boyne Falls.
After over a decade in the Boyne area, Partridge retired to the Augustine Center in Conway in 2005, where he served as a Senior Priest to the Sacramentine Sisters and anyone around the center for a retreat.
In 2015, however, Partridge returned to the Boyne area as Sacramental Minister, where he served until his recent death.
Times and dates, however, are not what Partridge will be remembered for.
Some might remember that Partridge spent over 40 years of his life researching Father Zorn, a Catholic priest who died over 100 years ago.
Finding that he was buried under a misspelled headstone in Manistee, despite having served in Harbor Springs nearly 150 miles away, Father Partridge took exception.
Partridge not only secured the permission needed to move the long-dead priest, but paid out of his pocket for the exhumation, transportation, a new coffin, a correct headstone, and even a new set of clothing to bury him in.
Some might remember his love of parish events, especially potlucks.
“Father Frank became a friend the very first day that we met him many, many years ago,” said Boyne Valley Catholic Community Parishioner Joyce Zavesky.
“One of the first things that we learned about him was that both of his legs were hollow. There was never too much food at a potluck. He would always say, ‘Why stop at one dessert when there so many?’”
She added, “He taught us to trust in Jesus. Our community lost not only a priest but a mentor and friend. The passing of Father Frank has put a big void in many hearts in our Boyne community.”
Others might remember Partridge’s warm and unique sense of humor.
“When I was in middle school, at the Epiphany, chalk was being handed out after mass. I grabbed a piece and asked Fr. Frank if it had been blessed,” said Matthew Juszczyk, who attended church in Boyne City as a child. “He smiled, performed the sign of the cross over the chalk, and said ‘There, it’s blessed now.’ I still have that little piece of chalk.”
Juszczyk also remembers advice given to him by Partridge for his high school graduation 15 years ago.
“At the Seniors mass, his homily focused on one central message: The Sermon on the Mount and specifically how the Beatitudes were a perfect microcosm for how you should live your life,” said Juszczyk. “If you ever questioned your faith or had a question about what you should do in life, you could look to the Sermon on the Mount.”
He added, “I’ve held that with me and chose the Beatitudes to be read at my wedding for this very reason.”
The final memory Juzczyk recalled was Partridge’s style of chanting during mass.
“Whenever I’m at mass, and there is Gregorian chant, I’m always imitating his Gregorian chant’s tone and pacing,” he said. “That will stick with me forever.”
Al Dzwik still remembers the time Fr. Frank officiated a wedding at one of his churches … but the musician couldn’t show up.
“So, he ran up the stairs to where the church organ was, kicked off his shoes, and played as the bride walked in, put his shoes back on, ran down the stairs, officiated the vows, ran back up the stairs, took off his shoes and played as the newlyweds marched out,” Dzwi said. “I imagine that couple must have been so happy that they had a father who didn’t panic and saved the day.”