Richard L. French Sr., age 94, passed away peacefully in his home with his family by his side on Dec. 28, 2020. He was under the care of Ascension at Home Hospice. He was affectionately known to family and friends as Herm, a nickname given to him by his uncle.
Richard was born in Rhinelander on Feb. 26, 1926 to Jay L. and Florence F. (Karlasky) French. He grew up in Starks, a small town east of Rhinelander named for his family who began a seed potato farm there.
After graduating from Rhinelander High School in 1944, Richard went into the Army Air Corp, now known as the U.S. Air Force. He was a Sergeant and trained as a Tail Gunner on a B17 Bomber. Upon his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1946 he signed up for the Air Force Reserves.
Richard attended UW Madison where he earned a degree in Soil Science from the School of Agriculture in 1950. He accepted a job with the USDA in Palmer, Alaska, and was ready to move when he received a call from the Air Force Reserves to serve during the Korean War. After serving as a Military Policeman in Tampa, Fla. for a year, Richard returned to Starks where he worked for Starks Farms Inc., the family seed potato farm. Richard eventually took over operation of the farm from his father becoming the third generation to grow seed potatoes in Starks until his retirement.
An active member of Nativity Catholic Church, Richard served as an usher and helped with fundraising for a new church. He was also an active member of the Knights of Columbus and helped out with the annual Smelt Fry. In his spare time he enjoyed hunting, fishing and time spent with his family, especially picnics at the lake lot with the family dogs running about.
Richard is survived by his wife of 59 years, Jean F. (Pokorny) French, one son Richard Jr. (Jan) French, Rhinelander and two daughters Mary (Steve) DeNamur, Lake Tomahawk and Jessica (Jim) Jung, Rhinelander. He is also survived by two granddaughters whom he dearly loved, Brianna and Olivia DeNamur. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A private visitation and Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the family at Nativity of our Lord Catholic Church followed by interment with full military honors at Nativity of our Lord Catholic Cemetery on Wednesday Dec. 30, 2020.
Remembrances and monetary donations can be made to the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in the name of Richard French Sr.
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