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Obituary: Dr. Francis W. Balice, 1921 – 2019

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The oldest resident of Big Sky, Dr. Francis W. Balice, passed away on March 7, 2019.

Dr. Balice was born in Ionia, Michigan, in 1921. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Chemistry in 1942. It was there that he met and married Jean Coffelt. They had four children, Judy, Randy, Bill and Janet. Bill passed away in 2005.

After the end of World War II, Fran—as he was affectionately called—went back to the University of Michigan to obtain his medical degree. He established his first medical practice in West Branch, Michigan, where, in his 30s, he discovered skiing.

He subsequently opened another medical practice in Adrian, Michigan, which was interrupted by two years in the US Army.

He loved skiing from his very first run, and it became an important part of his life, as well as the impetus for many of his travels. He even won a national slalom championship in his age group when he was 85 years old. He and Everett Kircher knew each other well in Michigan, and both moved to Montana around the same time. 

In the mid-70s he married Grace Velandra, and they lived first in Switzerland, then Boise, Idaho, and finally Bozeman. Fran and Grace loved Big Sky, so eventually they moved full-time to the base of Big Sky Resort, where he was a part-time ski patrolman and mountain host. He said that he never wanted to leave, “until the good Lord takes me away.”

The Balices loved tennis and were also members of the hiking club; Dr. Balice also became an avid Montana fisherman. He spoke four languages and was a lifelong Michigan Wolverine football fan. 

In 1999, Grace passed. In addition to his three children, Dr. Balice is survived by 4 grandchildren and two great-grand-children.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. Balice may be made to Eagle Mount or your choice of charity.

At the end of his life, he wanted us to say, “It was a good ride.”

Please join the family for a celebration of life at Buck’s T4 Sunday, March 17 from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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