FRENCH, NISSER, O'NEILL, BLACK


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Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 05:45:39 :

Marin Independent Journal
Saturday, December 7, 2002


William Harold French
Of Sebastopol/San Rafael died Sunday, December 1, 2002. He was 81. Bill, to his friends, was born July 28, 1921 in Des Moines, Iowa to William Thomas French and Lillian Nisser. Bill moved from Dallas, Texas with his family to San Francisco in 1927. In 1937, at the tender age of 16, Bill joined the United States Army at Fort Monterey California. The Monterey Post was the home of the distinguished 11th Cavalry, and it is here that Bill developed his uncanny ability to "communicate" with horses, a training technique currently known as natural horsemanship, and his expertise as a horseman. Within a few months after Pearl Harbor, Bill's battalion became mechanized and he then served as a highly decorated tank commander in the famous 11th Tank Battalion of General Patton's Third Army. While on patrol in the Arden Valley of France, Bill was severely wounded by a German sniper. Due to the severity of the wounds he was sent back to Letterman Hospital at the Presidio in San Francisco where he was shortly discharged. After the war Bill joined the San Francisco Fire Department and was assigned to 4 Truck 8 Engine where he served for over 25 years. In 1961, along with his wife Renie and daughters Jeanie and Vickie, Bill moved to San Geronimo to found San Geronimo Valley Stables, later to be known as the French Ranch Development, and French's Hitching Post, an English and Western riding apparel store in San Rafael. His love of horses lasted his entire life and will live on through his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. Bill was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing. His friends knew him as an assertive, confident, but yet very private man. One of his favorite quotes was from Teddy Roosevelt:
Far better it is
To dare mighty things
Then to take rank with
Those poor, timid spirits
Who know neither
Victory nor defeat.
He will be greatly missed by those who survive him, his sister Joy French-Black of Hawaii, his daughter Jeanie M. O'Neill, son-in-law John Stephen O'Neill, granddaughter Victoria Alexzandra O'Neill, and numerous nieces and nephews. A Memorial Celebration of His Life will be held at Chapel of the Hills, 330 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA on Tuesday, December 10th at 11 a.m. The family prefers memorial contributions to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, 1390 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94102-5306. Please mark donations: "For Research Only". Monte’s Chapel of the Hills Family Owned & Operated 330 Redhill Avenue, San Anselmo (415) 453-8440





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