DADE CITY, Fla. — Robert Earl French, 87, born to Victor and Myrtle French in Plainfield, N.J., on Sept. 15, 1925, passed away July 25, 2013, near his home in Dade City, Fla., surrounded by his wife, Rosemary (Kasel), and his loving children.
After growing up in New Jersey, Bob served in the United States Army and as a Merchant Marine during World War II. He did miss his last mission with acute appendicitis, which actually saved his life. His ship was sunk and all aboard were lost. Upon his discharge, he traveled with his best friend and fellow seaman, Izzy Fasel, to Kingsley. There he met and later married Rita Irene Pahl on Nov. 27, 1948. They had seven children and were married for 44 years.
Bob’s training as a mechanic while in the military led him to his career working for Ford, General Motors, and Grand Traverse Diesel. This was not just a career for Bob but was a lifelong passion. His children remember him bringing home many toys for them to play with such as motorcycles, snowmobiles, go-carts and mini-bikes. Most were inoperable until Bob put his magical hands to work. There wasn’t anything that he could not repair. “Dead Eye” was also an avid hunter, and he loved to drive, spending many years driving a “Big Rig.”
After the passing of his first wife, Rita, he spent his retirement years in Dade City, Fla. There he met and married Rosemary Kasel on Aug. 9, 2002. They had many friends and enjoyed an active social life. He learned to play golf at age 80. He had a natural ability for the game and it became a passion for him. His proudest moment on the golf course was when he got a hole in one. In his retirement community, Bob will be remembered as the guy who could fix anything.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Rita; and brother, Vern.
Bob is survived by his wife, Rosemary; and his seven children, Sally (Steve) Nagy, Tom (Peggy) French, Nancy( Roger) Michels, Christy (Dave) Courtad, Steve (Linda) French, Holly (Jeff) Carlson, and Joni (Marco) Marcantoni. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; four step-children, eight step-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.
A memorial will be held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Traverse City on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m., followed by a Mass at 11 a.m. A lunch reception will follow to celebrate “Frenchie’s” life.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home, Kingsley Chapel.