July 13, 1926-Sept. 10, 2004

MILTON-FREEWATER - Robert Paul "Bob" French, 78, of Milton-Freewater, a retired educator, died Friday, Sept. 10, 2004.

A celebration of life gatheringwill be held beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 15, at Pioneer United Methodist Church, 209 E. Birch, in Walla Walla. Private family services will be held at the Milton-Freewater Cemetery. Those needing a ride from Milton-Freewater, should be at Munselle-Rhodes Funeral Home, 902 S. Main Street, by 1:30 p.m., on Wednesday to catch the church bus.

Mr. French was born at Jamestown, N.D., to Raymond and Grace Allen French on July 13, 1926. His boyhood years were spent on his beloved Lake Winola in Northeast Pennsylvania. While still a senior in high school, he joined the Army Air Force Cadets and upon graduation, spent time at Fort Myers and Amarillo, Texas during World War II. His last year in the service was spent in occupied Italy working in a POW camp, where he started a baseball team with POW's and Army Air Force officers alike. He was especially proud to have been selected to participate in the Army Air Force Pilot Cadet program, even though it was discontinued after the war.

Upon his return from the war, Mr. French attended and graduated from East Stroudsberg University in 1950, and in 1955, graduated from Cornell University with a master's degree in secondary education. He later earned his masters in guidance and counseling from the University of North Dakota in 1965.

On August 21, 1955, Mr. French married the love of his life, Ann Lee Rhone, in Wyalusing, Pa. They would have been married 50 years next August. In 1962, he took his wife and three children and moved to Sutherlin, where he taught Social Studies at Oakland High School. In 1964, with an additional child, he moved his family to Grand Forks, N.D., where he attended the University of North Dakota for one year earning his second master's degree. The family returned to Oregon, on the McKenzie River, in 1965, where Mr. French was the Guidance Counselor at McKenzie High School for two years. In 1967, the family moved once again, this time to La Grande, Oregon, where he worked for the Educational Service District as a Counselor and Career Specialist for 14 years. In 1981, he moved to Newberg, where he served as head of the Counseling Department at Newberg High School until his retirement in 1990, when he and his wife moved to Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Mr. French earned several awards and recognition for his innovative and dedicated service to the field of education. He had a deep, genuine concern for his students and many of them shared in later years how much they appreciated his guidance and help.

Mr. French enjoyed an active, vital life, until his death. He loved being outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, golfing, and gardening, especially his tulips and roses. He has had a love of airplanes and flying his entire life. During his lifetime he coached many baseball and soccer teams, most recently helping his son coach his granddaughter's soccer team. He also loved hockey, having played it as a boy on Lake Winola, and then teaching his sons as children. He loved to travel, always wanting to see what was over the next mountain, and managed to visit 49 of the 50 United States, plus Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

He was a devoted Christian and was a member of Pioneer Methodist Church in Walla Walla. He was a life member of American Legion Post 24 and Veteran of Foreign Wars 3456 of Milton-Freewater. Over his lifetime he was involved in many church and community organizations, usually those involving children.

Mr. French took great pride in his family and loved them very much. He was said to be a strong, loving, and fun husband, dad, and grandpa. Hehas said that the smartest things he ever did were to "marry Ann Rhone, get an education, move to Oregon and make a lot of friends."

Survivors include his wife, Ann; four married children, Kim and Eldon Slippy of Summerville, Ted and Gwen French of Colorado Springs, Colo., Eric and Lynne Pierce-French of Huber Heights, Ohio, and Bruce and Laura French of Sparks, Nev.; ten grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren; his older brother, Ray French of Richland, Wash.; and many nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Ken; and sister, Nancy.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association through Munselle-Rhodes Funeral Home, 902 S. Main, Milton-Freewater, OR 97862.

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