Herbert S. French Jr. ’46 died on February 18, 2015, in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.
(The following was provided by the Concord Monitor in February)
HOPKINTON – Herbert S. French Jr., of Hopkinton, formerly of Shrewsbury, Mass. and Pine Island, Meredith, died peacefully at Concord Hospital, Concord, with family at his side Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. He was born in Weymouth, Mass., the son of the late Herbert S. and Leslie (Greer) French and raised in Weymouth.
He was predeceased by Marian Elva (South) French his beloved wife of 55 years, whom he married in 1952; and his son, Thomas S. French, MD in 2005.
He leaves his children, two sons, Herbert S. French III and his wife, Cynthia of Boylston, Mass. and David C. French and his wife, Colleen of New Hampton; his daughter, Susan C.F. Hull and her husband, Rocky, of Royalton, Vt.; his daughter-in-law, Jacqueline S. French of Barnard, Vt.; a sister, Ruth Ruhr of Plymouth, Mass.; his grandchildren, Lily T. French of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Cameron T. French of New Hampton, Taylor C. Hull of Locke, N.Y., and Lauren S. French of Barnard, Vt.; and many nieces and nephews. He also leaves his devoted caregiver and friend, for whom the family will forever be thankful, Gene Strout of Washington, Vt., and his beloved dog, Luke.
He was senior class president at Milton High School, Milton, Mass., graduating in 1941. He then went on to Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. for a post-grad year. Subsequently, he graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine in 1948. His college years at Bowdoin were interrupted by his entry into the United States Army during World War II, with a three year tour of duty throughout Europe, returning to Bowdoin to complete his undergraduate degree after Victory in Europe Day. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Philadelphia, obtaining his MBA in 1951. He then began a long career in corporate finance at the investment company, Kidder, Peabody & Company, retiring 30 years later, as senior vice president of corporate finance to join the Bigelow Company and Advest, Inc. One of his fondest memories was sailing from Provincetown, Mass. to Boothbay, Maine on the schooner Bowdoin, with fellow Bowdoin alumini and artic explorer Donald Baxter MacMillan.
Those who knew Herb understood that his passions were his family, education, music, and aviation. Embracing and enjoying education he also taught at Boston University’s Graduate School of Business. He has been recognized by the Bowdoin Alumni Council with the 2006 Alumni Service Award. Over the last 60 plus years, Herb volunteered in nearly every imaginable capacity for Bowdoin College. Joining the Alumni Club Board as secretary in 1952, he became the Alumni Club president in 1962. His leadership for his class’s 25th reunion effort in 1970 led to a four-year position as an alumni fund director, serving one year as chairman. He became an overseer in 1976 and served in this capacity until 1988, when he was elected overseer emeritus. He also served the College in two capital campaigns and worked as an associate class agent. He interviewed countless prospective students through the Bowdoin Alumni Schools and Interviewing Committee (BASIC), and worked to provide a network for Bowdoin students and alumni, well before the Bowdoin Career Advisory Network (BCAN) was created. In 2005, Herb and his wife, Marian, created the Thomas Simpson French, M.D., Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of their late son, Thomas, a member of the Class of 1983. The fund supports scholarships for Bowdoin students pursuing premed studies. During a demanding business career, Herb donated countless hours not only to Bowdoin, but to numerous other volunteer organizations. He was a multi-term president of the Worcester (Mass.) Big Brothers Association and served as the chairman of the Shrewsbury Red Cross Fund Campaign.
While he never took formal piano lessons, he was a play-by-ear “virtuoso”. While at Bowdoin College, he was a member of the Glee Club and the a cappella group, The Meddiebempsters, with whom he took part in a USO chorus tour of Europe after the end of World War II. In 1958, he wrote the copyrighted music, still used today, for the play “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” based on the book by Washington Irving. His children have wonderful memories of their Dad at the piano during family gatherings at home and on Pine Island, during dinner parties hosted by their parents or just anytime the mood struck him to play.
Herb was also an accomplished private pilot with instrument rating who volunteered both his time and plane. He shared his piloting skills with underserved teens and later for Angel Flight Central, a volunteer non-profit organization whose mission it is to “Serve people in need by arranging charitable flights for health care or other humanitarian purposes”.