Love After 50: Murry and Beverly Francois

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins March 15, 2012 12:00

Murry Francois is talking a blue streak, words and memories pouring forth in a fast-moving torrent carrying the rich accent of his Louisiana roots.

Relaxing on the front porch of his La Grange home, he’s recalling the day he met his future wife, Beverly, at the Oakland care home where she worked as a nurse.

Murry was there to visit his Aunt Eugenia, mother of the late California Supreme Court Justice Allen Broussard. As he walked in, the receptionist asked him, “Do you ever go on a cruise?”

“No ma’am, I never do,” Murry answered.

“You see that nurse right there?” the woman asked. “She’s not married, and she doesn’t have any children. Why don’t you ask her to go on a cruise with you?”

Murry’s reaction: “How stupid do you think I am?” But a minute later, he walked up to that nurse, said hello, and saw her smile.

“I didn’t only look at her,” he remembers. “I gazed at her.”

Murry, then 79, was an Army veteran, former aircraft mechanic and 47-year trucker who returned to the road after his wife’s death in 2000.

He invited Beverly, then 52, to dinner, and left her with his phone number.

“I waited and waited,” recalls Murry, a father of three, “then one night my phone rang. It was Beverly calling Murry, Lord have mercy.”

Murry, who often refers to himself in third person, was impatient, even though the time between first meeting and first date was only a couple of days, Beverly says.

That date began with dinner at a restaurant, where they talked and talked – or, more accurately, Murry mostly talked. “The restaurant closed, and he kept talking,” she remembers. “They asked us to leave.” It’s characteristic of their opposites-attract relationship. He loves center stage. She’s a behind-the-scenes person. He launches into new friendships with abandon. She hangs back a bit, studies people to get a sense of their character.

Where they converge is their humor, strong faith, and shared belief that relationships require work and commitment.
“When I first met Murry, I thought, God I like that man, but he talks way too much,” Beverly recalls. “And God said, ‘Just leave him alone.’ So I watched him and saw his impact on people. People either love, love, love him or they don’t. And that’s just who he is.”

People often tell Murry he’s lucky, with a wife 26 years younger whose smile still dazzles him. He’s the first to agree, in characteristic form: “Murry J. Francois,” he says, “is a very fortunate man having a wife like Beverly.”

Beverly feels lucky, too. Even though her husband is 86, “He acts like he’s 50.”

“He’s a great man,” she says. “He’s funny, he makes me laugh, he’s got a great big heart, and he would never do anything to hurt anybody.”

They married in 2005 and moved to Murry’s home in Groveland, where he had lived off and on for 35 years. In 2010, the couple moved to rural La Grange. Beverly commutes to her Sonora nursing job, while Murry tends the home front and visits with neighbors who drop by to chat.

Marriage, both agree, requires work and a fair share of staying power.

“We knew there would be ups and downs,” Beverly says, “but we’re both committed to the relationship. Neither of us is going anywhere.”

They also share a strong sense of fairness, and tolerance for each other’s differences.

As Beverly puts it, “We don’t tread on each other.”

Murry quotes his mother, Elise, who lived to 100. Don’t judge a book by its cover, she’d say. Open the book and read it.

“Some people want it all, and they don’t want to give anything,” Murry says. “Give a little here and there, and someone is going to give you something back.”

© 2012 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins March 15, 2012 12:00