Rick & Ginger Francis, EL PASO
Rick and Ginger Francis are lifelong El Pasoans, with Rick’s family history extending back three generations. On his mother’s side, his great-grandfather, J.C. Rodehaver, was a sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps under General “Blackjack” Pershing’s command at Fort Bliss, with the difficult job of supplying cavalry troops as they pursued Pancho Villa into Mexico. The military drew Ginger’s family to El Paso. Her parents, Rollo and Doris Gurss — both from Kansas — arrived when her father was stationed at Fort Bliss. They loved the mountains, sunlight, and people so much, they decided to stay.
Rick grew up on the west side of El Paso, attending Morehead Middle and Coronado High School before leaving for Lubbock and Texas Tech. Ginger grew up on the east side of Mount Franklin — the “sunrise side” where Tom Lea lived — attending Bassett Middle School and Loretto Academy before heading to Texas Tech. Though they had never met in El Paso, Rick and Ginger sat next to each other on Continental Airlines when coming home for spring break in 1977. According to Ginger, “a quick fifty-five minutes later, we were set to go on a date!” After two years, they were married, moving to Dallas and returning to their hometown in 1982 when Rick bought his dad’s two-way radio division of SYT Corporation and renamed it Francis Communications. After selling his businesses, he invested in banking — first in the local State National Bank and then Bank of the West — now WestStar Bank. When its founder — former Mayor Jonathan Rogers — passed away, Rick filled the void, becoming chairman and CEO.
Rick is also on the Board of Regents for the Texas Tech University System, serving as chairman for two non-consecutive terms. Ginger served as Chairman of the Board for the El Paso Museum of Art during construction and renovation of the downtown complex. Texas Tech remains important to Rick and Ginger, as Rick continues to steer the growth of its Paul L. Foster School of Medicine and Ginger chairs the medical school’s Public Art Committee.
The lobby of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing is named in memory of their son, Tyler. On the lobby’s walls, the archetypes of El Paso’s history rise up overhead, reproduced from Lea’s 1938 Pass of the North mural in the historic federal courthouse downtown. Overhead is the inscription:
O Pass of the North,
Now the Old Giants Are Gone,
We Little Men Live Where Heroes
Once Walked the Inviolate Earth.
When El Paso citizens look back one hundred years from now to the actions that carried their city forward in the early 21st century, Rick and Ginger Francis will be among the giants they’ll discover!