Francis Lanctot became interested in government at an early age. His father, Eugene, was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1932, three weeks before Francis was born. Eugene Lanctot served in the General Assembly for 22 years.
He made his first bid at public office in 1961 when he ran for a seat on the Woonsocket City Council. He lost. He ran again in 1963 and lost. He lost again in 1965 and 1969. Finally in 1971, Francis broke his losing streak and was ultimately elected to eight consecutive two year terms.
Francis enjoyed a successful career with the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company in Boston. He traveled around the country as an educational consultant for the company and was promoted to district manager of the company’s Woonsocket Office. His position at John Hancock consumed much of his time, and for that reason, he chose not to seek relection to the Woonsocket City Council in 1987.
However, Francis was not pleased with the direction the city was headed and decided to run for mayor in 1989. He won and served three consecutive two-year terms.
The state and city were in dire financial condition when Francis assumed office. The governor closed the state’s credit unions and banks shortly after taking office and Francis demonstrated his leadership by working to keep the city out of bankruptcy.
During his administration the site of the proposed Museum of Work and Culture was changed from its orginal site near the Globe Bridge to its present location.
In October 1990, the owner of the Stadium Theatre made a proposal for the city to purchase the building and convert it to a performing arts center. Francis was definitely intrested but the city was not in a financial postion to purchase the building at that time. However, he appointed a Save Our Stadium Committee to explore the feasibility of the project.
The day after Mayor Lanctot left office in December 1995, he began work as the volunteer executive director. Scores of volunteers joined the effort to save the historic building and more than $3 million was raised to restore the theatre to its original beauty.
Mayor Lanctot assisted in the production of the “Tribute to the Greatest Generation,” on May 30, 2004 at th Stadium Theatre. Many World War II veterans were recognized and honored for their service by more than one thousand attendees.
Francis is a member of the June Rockwell Levy Charitable Foundation, a trust that has contributed millions of dollars over the years to non-profit organizations.