‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Francis's visitation.

Francis Leo Lair

Funeral services for Francis Leo Lair, will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at St. Theodore Catholic Church. Father Russell Scepaniak will officiate. Interment will be at St. Theodore Cemetery. Visitation will be 5:00 -7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 28 with a Prayer Service at 6:30 p.m. at Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Online condolences are welcome at www.bayviewfuneral.com.

Precious husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Francis Leo Lair of Albert Lea, Minnesota (most recently of Burnsville, Minnesota) left this world at the age of 97 on October 23, 2016, surrounded by loved ones.  

Francis will always be remembered for the Irish twinkle in his eye, his wit and wisdom, his respectful and polite ways, his leadership skills, and his courage in the face of physical pain.  He was passionate about his faith, his family, his friends, and his business career.  

Francis was born on October 12, 1919, in Freeborn County, MN and was a graduate of Emmons High School. He was a proud patriot who served his country during WWII as an Army cryptographer for 3 1/2 years in the Aleutian Islands. He married his beloved wife Dorothy in 1949 and moved to Albert Lea where they raised their family. Francis spent 42 years in farm and consumer cooperatives, serving in various capacities at National Cooperatives, where he became President and CEO in 1961. He remained in that position through a merger with Universal Cooperatives in 1972, relocated to Alliance OH, followed by a return to Bloomington MN, where he retired from that position in 1982.

Francis' dedication to his community and cooperatives throughout his professional life was significant: the first congregational President of St. Theodore's Catholic Church, Director of the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce and Freeborn National Bank, member of the Knights of Columbus, American Legion, VFW, Elks and Rotary, Board of Directors of the Minnesota State AAA, Directors Group Health (now Health Partners), Chairman of the Board MSI Insurance, and Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) where he served as their international representative in Switzerland. Francis was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. in 2002.

Preceded in death by his devoted wife of 65 years, Dorothy (Sullivan) Lair; parents Frank and Gert Lair, brother Webster Lair, sisters Betty Martinson, Margie MacKay, and Maxine Lair, as well as many sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.

Survived by his brother, James (Pat) Lair of Albert Lea, sister Eileen Hengesteg of Lake Mills, children Kathleen (Bob) Zakoski of Carlsbad, CA, Mary Beth (Greg) Senske of Burnsville, MN, Jeanne (Jack) Flickinger of Poynette, WI, and Patrick (Mary) Lair of Bloomington, MN, as well as several sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and many nieces and nephews.

Francis was so proud of his 9 grandchildren:  Megan (Mike) Bireley, Kari (Rob) Nick, Brian (Jacquelyn) Senske, Katelin (Chris) Swanson, Loreena (Cody) Hilton, Laura (Chau) Le, Matthew Freer, Jamie Zakoski, and Bryce (Lindsey) Zakoski. He was adored by 13 great-grandchildren: Emmie, Jackson, Grace, Parker, Jamison, Connor, Logan, Bennett, Kellen, Evan, Alex, Leona, and Calvin. His family was his greatest legacy.

A special thanks to his special nurse Lindsey and all of the caregivers at Emerald Crest Burnsville and Grace Hospice for their tender love and compassion.  

Memorials preferred to Emerald Crest Burnsville.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Francis Lair, please visit our flower store.


Dear Lair Family,
     Most of Francis and Dorothy's children probably do not remember ever meeting me, but my Dad, William (Bill) Carey was a first cousin to your family.  Your Grandma Gert and my Grandpa, Bernard Ignatious Carey were siblings. My Dad and Mom (Julie) used to bring my sisters and I to the Lair Family reunions when we small. All of the Lair cousins were at our weddings and many were able to visit my Mom in hospice in Mason City before she died.  I always enjoyed being around Francis, Dorothy, Pat and Verliss, Eileen, Margie,Betty etc. because they were always laughing and so full of life. After my parents passed, I took over sending Christmas greetings to the Lair cousins each year.  Your Dad would always call me on the phone to let me know he received my letter and to give me an update on the family.  I did not realize he had passed away until this year's Christmas letter was returned to me and I searched the internet and found this obituary.  Please know that I offer my sincere sympathy and condolences to the whole family on the loss of this kind and loving man.  If any of you want to connect with your extended family of second cousins, let me know and I can fill you in on  my siblings, as well as your Dad's cousins' Dick and Rosa Thompson's and Mary Carey Scroggin's children and their families.

Cecilia Carey Dec 23 2016 12:00 AM

Dear Kathy and Family,

Our family sends long distance love and hugs. We were so lucky to have known your wonderful father and will never forget his endearing smile and manner. We'll always remember his painting jumpsuit and delicious caramel corn.  Please know you're in our thoughts.

Barbara and Doug

Barbara & Doug Myers Oct 27 2016 12:00 AM

Dearest Kathy, Bob, Jamie, Bryce, Lindsey and family,

It's been quite the month for grandparents and we are thinking about all the amazing memories.  I will never forget the carmel corn, the painting and the smiles.  He was always smiling and now I smile thinking about all of the amazing memories!

Sending love and hope for peaceful hearts!

Amy & Tom

Amy & Tom Mantione Oct 27 2016 12:00 AM

We are made better by having known him, his precious and kind ways - he had me when he walked up to me in his jumpsuit, and introduced himself as "Fran" 'your neighbor's painter, I hang wallpaper too' -  could have been my father! Hold him dear!!

Timm & Nancy Hammond Oct 27 2016 12:00 AM

Jeanne:  My deepest sympathy to you & all your family. Hugs of love

Carole McCormick Oct 26 2016 12:00 AM

Dearest Cousins:  Deepest sympathies on the loss of Uncle Fran. I have the fondest memories of visiting him and Aunt Dorothy when I would take trips with my grandparents (Bud and Florence Sullivan) to visit the Minnesota cousins. My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you bid goodbye to him. Love: Kelly

Kelly Fitzpatrick Thorp Oct 26 2016 12:00 AM

Mary Greg Senske,

Mary and I will be praying for both of you and your families.

Paul and Mary Bonnerup Oct 26 2016 12:00 AM

Dear Lair Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.  I didn't know your Dad, but have heard many fond things from Pat, my boss.  He was truly loved and will be missed.  He is in heaven now with joined hands with your mother.  
May Mr. Lair rest in peace.

Jennifer Robinson-West Oct 25 2016 12:00 AM

Friends and Family uploaded 2 to the gallery.

Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM