Francis “Fran” Cartier, Jr. born July 17, 1923
Fran's heritage reaches back to Quebec, Canada. His father was a French speaking Canadian and was left an orphan with the death of his parents in the 1900s. Fran's father learned English when he moved to the United States, settling in Sacramento where Fran was born. For many years his father ventured up and down the California’s central valley, mainly Hwy 99, as a travelling salesman. Fran sometimes accompanied him on his travles. His mother was a schoolteacher and recognized Fran’s abilities and supported him skipping a grade.
Fran joined the Army where he had a distinguished career. Lt Francis, “Fran,” Cartier completed 39 missions as the bombardier on a B-24 Liberator with the 733rd Bomb Squadron of the 453rd Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. As well as strategic bombardment missions, the 453rd Bomb Group also ferried cargo on two occasions. They hauled petrol, blankets, and rations to France in September 1944 and dropped ammunition, food, and medical supplies near Wesel during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945. The 733rd Bomb Squadron completed a record 82 consecutive missions without loss.
Following the war, as a radio announcer and budding thespian, Fran enrolled in USC to pursue a bachelor’s degree in film. William C. DeMille was the Dean of the Film School at the time. Cinema's loss was Academia's gain as Fran remained at USC to get his Doctorate in Speech Pathology. Teaching and research stints at a number of Colleges and Universities followed. During this period, Fran's lifelong passion for how people learn developed. He was asked by several institutions to help overhaul their curriculums and was a sought-after speaker on a number of topics. One of his favorite courses was how to develop creative thinking. He was eventually asked by the Air Force to revamp the Air Force Academy curriculum for their Junior year. When that task was completed, he moved to Pacific Grove and began a decades long career at the Defense Language Institute as DLI’s director of curriculum and test development. Fran has been an active and vital resident of Pacific Grove for more than 50 years.
Fran met his wife (Helen P. Howells) at a dance hall in Boise, Idaho. The love of dancing (swing, fox trot, waltz, etc.) and their keen intellects drew them together and cemented their relationship. In romantic letters to Helen he promised to take this Idaho, farm girl to “see the world”. He kept those promises, travelling all over Europe and to Thailand. They even lived in both Paris and London for a time. Fran and Helen lived in San Antonio and that is where Fran joined Mensa. Shortly after that, the family moved to Pacific Grove in 1971. They have a son Paul, now living in San Francisco, and a daughter Ann, now living in the South of France.
Fran has been a long-time member of Mensa (since first joining in 1970) and has garnered numerous awards since that time. In 2017 the Executive Committee of Monterey County Mensa donated $1000 to the Mensa Education and Research Foundation (MERF) scholarship fund in Fran’s honor. Founded in 1971, MERF is a philanthropic non-profit 501(c)3 organization committed to the pursuit of excellence in human intelligence. Fran joined the board of MERF in 1989, serving as its president from 1992-1995, and continued as trustee through 2010. He also served as Associate Editor of the Mensa Research Journal which highlights scholarly articles and recent research related to intelligence from a diverse selection of nationally and internationally esteemed authors. He had a regular column (Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes) in the Journal up into his nineties. Fran was the recipient of the American Mensa Margot Award in 2011. The award is bestowed “for the rendering of exceptional service to Mensa for a number of years.” In 2019 Fran received the American Mensa Distinguished Service Award given for outstanding service to American Mensa. Among his other awards and distinctions, Fran received the President’s Call to Service Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to individuals who have given a minimum of 4,000 volunteer service hours. He is one of only 11 members of Mensa to receive this award.
For his 100th birthday, and in recognition of all his accomplishments, Dr. Francis Cartier received the (pictured) award for Distinguished Trustee Emeritus.