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Born in Montreal in 1878, William Willoughby Francis was named after his mother's cousin, Sir William Osler. As Osler's namesake, and also his godson, Francis decided to pursue a medical degree and graduated in 1902 from Johns Hopkins University. After interning at the Royal Victoria Hospital and spending time in Europe to pursue post-graduate studies, Francis started his own practice in Montreal in 1906. He was also appointed Demonstrator in Pathology at McGill University under the direction of Dr. Maude Abbott. For some time, Francis served as Secretary-Treasurer and Assistant Editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. His career was briefly interrupted when he fell ill with pulmonary tuberculosis, and he was admitted to St. Agathe Sanatorium where he regained his health in 1911. During World War One, Francis went overseas with No.3 Canadian General Hospital. After the war, Francis remained in Europe and took a position in Geneva as Assistant Editor – eventually Editor – of the International Journal of Public Health. Upon the death Sir William Osler in 1919, Francis relocated to Oxford where he began cataloguing Osler's extensive collection of books that had been bequeathed to McGill University. Francis was the principal editor of the Bibliotheca Osleriana with the help of co-editors Archibald Malloch and Reginald Hill. The Osler Library of the History of Medicine opened its doors at McGill University in 1929 and Francis served as the library's dedicated librarian until his death in 1959.
In 1921, W. W. Francis married Hilda Colley and they had one daughter who was born in Oxford, Marian Francis Kelen (1922-2014). The family spent nearly seven years living in England while Francis catalogued Osler's bequest. Upon completion of the work, the family returned to Montreal with eighty-six large packing cases of books. Marian Francis pursued a medical degree and graduated from McGill in 1945 with an M.D.C.M. It was at McGill where she met her husband, and fellow medical student, Andrew Kelen. Upon graduation, Andrew, who was part of the ROTC (Regular Officers' Training Corps), was stationed in London and elsewhere in western Europe with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps until the end of the Second World War (1944-1945). After Andrew was discharged from the RCAMC and returned home, Marian and Andrew were married (1946) and pursued residencies at the Montreal General Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, and the former Montreal Homeopathic Hospital (later Queen Elizabeth Hospital of Montreal) before practicing medicine at the Ormstown Medical Centre in southern Quebec. Marian and Andrew Kelen had five children together: Michael (born 1948), Sari, Steve, Susan, and Wendy. Marian Kelen stopped practicing medicine for 18 years while raising the growing family.