Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service

Dr. Francis W. Balice

April 15, 1921 ~ March 07, 2019

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 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 30’s he discovered skiing.  Another medical practice in Adrian, Michigan followed, interrupted by 2 years in the US Army. 
He loved skiing from his very first run, and skiing became an important part of his life, and 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 about the same time.

In the mid-70s he married Grace Velandra, and they lived first in Switzerland, then Boise, and finally Bozeman.   Fran and Grace loved Big Sky, so eventually they moved full-time to 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, were members of the hiking club, and Dr. Balice became an avid Montana fisherman and was a dedicated University of Michigan football fan.  He spoke four languages, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.  
In addition to his three children, Dr. Balice is survived by 4 grandchildren and two great-grand-children.

His wife, Grace passed away in 1999.

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

A celebration of Fran’s life will be held on Sunday, March 17th at Buck’s T-4 from 2:30–5:30 pm.

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